By Mary Zelazny, CEO, Finger Lakes Community Health, a non-profit healthcare organization with eight health centers in the region.
Nearly 30 million Americans from all walks of life rely on their local community health center (CHC) for healthcare services. CHCs serve 1 in 12 Americans including 2.6 million older adults and 8 million children. 1 in 5 patients at CHCs live in rural communities, as well as serving 398,000 veterans. Health Centers such as Finger Lakes Community Health (FLCH) provide comprehensive healthcare services to all regardless of economic background, insurance status, or occupation.
Community health centers (CHC) are a vital part of our healthcare system but are not well understood. Every CHC organization is governed by a board of directors that must include the patients that they serve which gives them a voice about the services they receive and the hours that a health center operates. Many believe that we only serve certain groups of people, yet we serve everyone in the community.
At FLCH we serve people of every background and income! College professors, students, professionals, and retirees, to name a few. Additionally, FLCH also supports our many farms with special healthcare services for agricultural workers. In summary, we care for entire families from infants to grandparents. It is family medicine at its best!
Every year, we celebrate National Health Center Week (August 7 – 13) in honor of our patients and our staff. We hope that this article can give you more information about CHCs which are an important asset to so many communities across the state and the country.
We help someone you know.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, as of 2021, there are more than 1,400 community health center programs in the United States, with more than 14,500 service sites. 42% of CHCs are located in rural communities. As of 2019, Finger Lakes Community Health served almost 29,000 people at its eight health centers.
Comprehensive services for all
Community Health Centers provide a wide range of services. At FLCH we provide primary care, dental, reproductive health, mental health and substance abuse services, and care management.
Who provides the care at Community Health Centers?
FLCH has fully licensed and qualified healthcare professionals, many of whom live in the communities where they work. You may know our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jose Canario; Ellen Hey, FNP, Chief Quality Officer; Amanda Felice, MS, LMHC, Director of Behavioral Health; and Anthony Mendicino, DDS, Chief Dental Officer. CHCs hire highly skilled providers and nurses, who offer superb care to their patients.
FLCH also hires a variety of support staff including dental assistants, patient navigators, community health workers, financial advocates, and other positions. Data shows that CHCs are a major employer where they are located and have a strong positive economic impact on those communities. Visit our website to learn more about our providers and services. www.LocalCommunityHealth.com
Community health centers help to reduce health care costs and produce savings. A study done by the American Public Health Association found that health centers are 24% more cost-effective when compared to other providers. CHCs provide one-quarter of all primary care visits for the nation’s low-income population and generate $24 billion in annual savings.
Although health centers provide services not typically furnished in other care settings, their costs are still lower. Their costs run at least a dollar less per patient per day compared to all physician settings ($1.67 vs. $2.64) and are far below the cost of a hospital stay. (National Association of Community Health Centers).
Quality care measurements
Finger Lakes Community Health is licensed by the NYS Department of Health, the same organization that regulates hospitals and private practices. We must meet stringent guidelines to continue to care for you. Community health centers also meet or exceed national practice standards for chronic condition treatment. In fact, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) have recognized health centers as models for screening, diagnosing, and managing chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, depression, cancer, and HIV. (HRSA)
How do we lower health care costs at FLCH?
Community health providers operate under a patient-centered care model, involving patients in care decisions. This model allows providers to steer patients away from costly trips to the emergency room and help them avoid relapses (Tulane University Report). Our Geneva, Penn Yan, Sodus, Ovid, Port Byron, and Newark Community Health Centers have all been recognized as Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Homes by the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) – the highest level of recognition for excellence in comprehensive primary care.
Finding comprehensive healthcare under one roof is hard to come by. When you are considering who to choose for medical, dental, or behavioral health services, call Finger Lakes Community Health. Come in for a visit. Talk to us. You will be surprised by what you learn.