Local engines for healthier communities

For nearly 50 years, America's community health centers have provided high quality, cost effective and accessible primary and preventative care to all individuals regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. Health centers serve as the health care home for more than 22 million Americans through more than 9,000 delivery sites across the nation. One in every 15 people living in the United States depends on their services.

Health centers are located in medically underserved areas and locally-controlled by patient-majority boards, making each health center responsive to the needs of the specific community it serves. As locally owned and operated small businesses, health centers serve as critical economic engines helping to power local economies by generating billions of dollars in combined economic impact and creating jobs in some of the country’s most economically deprived communities.

Health centers employ more than 9,500 physicians and more than 6,300 nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dentists, and dental hygienists, along with social workers, case managers, and community health workers, as part of a multi-disciplinary clinical team designed to treat the whole patient, coordinating care and managing chronic disease, at the same time reducing unnecessary, avoidable and wasteful use of health resources.

The health center model continues to prove an effective means of overcoming barriers to access including geography, income and insurance status and in doing so, improves health care outcomes and reduces health care system costs. Health centers save the entire health system approximately $24 billion annually by managing chronic conditions and keeping patients out of costlier health care settings.

Health centers have worked tirelessly to grow the nation’s primary care infrastructure to meet the pressing needs of Americans who still lack access to primary care services, a number that exceeds 62 million nationwide. The demand for health centers continues to outpace growth and expansion of the program will be essential to meet the needs of these new patients, as existing health centers are already at capacity and many communities lack any primary care services at all.

Health centers remain committed to preserving and expanding access in the communities they serve, ensuring that the promise of coverage is translated into the reality of care. National Health Center Week, Aug. 10-16, offers the opportunity to recognize America’s health centers, their dedicated staff, board members and all those responsible for the continued success and growth of the program since its creation almost 50 years ago. During this National Health Center Week, we recognize the significant contributions of America’s Health Centers in their vital role as local engines for healthier com- munities and a healthier America.

I encourage every Sheboygan County resident to visit your community health center, Lakeshore Community Health Care, and celebrate the important partnership between Sheboygan’s Health Center and the communities we serve.

To lean more about the services offered by Lakeshore Community Health Care or to visit the center go to www.lakeshorecommunityhc.org.


—Submitted by Kristin Blanchard, chief executive officer of Lakeshore Community Health Center and member of the HSC2020 steering committee.