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Why a health center to get your healthcare? Why a health center as a place to work? We often get a lot of questions about what makes a health center unique. We have physicians, physician’s assistants, nurses, dentists, dental hygienists, mental health counselors…like many medical practices. We could certainly say a lot about why health centers are special but we thought our staff could say it better so we asked a couple.

First, there’s their dedication. Suffice it to say that anyone who gets into healthcare is committed to helping others improve their lives. Whether you’re a community outreach worker, patient navigator connecting patients to services they need in the community, or a medical provider, you work together as a team for the betterment of patients.
“I feel that the work I do matters and the personal relationships I have established with patients have grown over the years. Patients feel they have someone to talk to and trust with their healthcare. This is huge for me,” said Ozzy Jimenez, RN BSN, who has worked at Finger Lakes Community Health for over 13 years.

Second, at our health centers we provide medical services to people from all walks of life. From the professor at the local college to a retired military officer, we see everyone. And that’s what our staff loves! “Finger Lakes Community Health offers me the opportunity to work with people across the lifespan with a focus on a range of conditions, backgrounds, and experiences that are not available at a site that focuses solely on mental health or addictions. No two days are alike here,” says Sally Espinosa, Mental Health Counselor, Newark and Geneva Community Health.

If you want a job that’s rewarding, then healthcare is a good choice. “I find joy and fulfillment in being able to help people alleviate their suffering, improve their quality of life, and contribute in a positive and meaningful way,” says Sally Espinosa, Mental Health Counselor.

“I enjoy serving those that have had bad dental experiences in the past, or for whatever reason are now ready to take responsibility for their oral care. Seeing the appreciation and smile they leave our health center with, is very rewarding,” said Nancy Olney, Dental Assistant.

Health centers are part of a national network that is the family doctor to more than 27 million Americans. They are proven innovators and problem-solvers in treating chronic disease. They save money and countless lives because they don’t just prevent illness, they look beyond medical charts to address the factors that cause poor health, such as homelessness, substance use, mental illness, lack of nutrition, stress, and unemployment.

Health centers are also on the front lines dealing with complex issues: substance use disorders, including opioid addiction, low birth weights among newborns, hypertension and obesity in economically challenged neighborhoods – health conditions that, if left unchecked, end up in hospital emergency rooms for costly treatment. They provide a wide range of primary care services in one location to make it easy for patients, including dental, geriatric or pediatric care, and even counseling.

In New York State, there are 68 community health centers that serve more than 2 million patients annually. To be designated as a Community Health Center by the federal government, certain requirements must be met. Clinical quality standards must be met and are posted on the web every year.

In addition, health centers must have “accessible hours and locations that assure accessibility and meet the needs of the community being served” ( as well as after-hours coverage. Each health center must have a sliding fee discount system for all patients under 200% of the federal poverty level and should not deny care due to an inability to pay. And most all community health centers in NYS are advanced in their use of technology, using electronic health records, data analytics and telehealth services to drive better health outcomes.

It’s a formula that brings the best of care to patients from all walks of life. And all under one roof! August 12 – August 18 is Health Center Week where we celebrate our staff, patients, and the impact we have in our communities. It’s also an opportunity to let you know that health centers, and particularly Finger Lakes Community Health, are viable options to get the highest quality care.

If you’re in need of a medical provider or want to explore a medical or staff position at a health center, call us at 315-531-9102.

Article written by Lawreen Duel, Director of Operations and Corporate Compliance Officer, Finger Lakes Community Health, an independent (non-hospital) health care organization with eight health centers in the region. As published in the Finger Lakes Times, August 12,2 018