As a national movement, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) were founded on the principles to act as champions for public health and health equity. First established in the 1960s, FQHCs provide care to all, regardless of ability to pay. Historically, we served as that crucial link in a healthcare system, that often times, fails to reach our most vulnerable and those in need. And today our mission is increasingly important as we work to provide a lifeline of defense against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The COVID-19 pandemic has confronted us worldwide, and the disease is impacting people of color and vulnerable communities at a higher rate, giving added urgency to movements centered on racial and social justice. The FQHC movement, echoes the importance of amplifying the voices of those who do not experience health and safety equally.
As a movement, FQHCs serve nearly 30 million patients nationwide and operate more than 13,000 urban and rural clinics across every state and territory. Locally, the FQHC and community health center reach includes that of five nonprofit organizations serving over 82,000 patients in 16 locations across five counties. Our unique positioning and meaningful role in public health as trusted community stakeholders strategically places us as pillars in helping to mitigate the growth and spread of communicable diseases such as COVID-19.
At Neighborhood Health Center of WNY, we pride ourselves as innovators who look beyond medical charts to address the factors that contribute to poor health, such as poverty, homelessness, substance use, mental illness, lack of nutrition, limited access to affordable medication, and unemployment. As the primary care home to more than 26,000 Western New Yorkers, we will continue enhancing our services through this pandemic by employing TeleHealth, offering drive-up COVID-19 testing, and ensuring our patients can access resources to basic necessities like food and housing.
As we celebrate National Health Center Week from August 9 – August 15, 2020, we champion this year’s theme of “Community Health Centers: Lighting the Way for Healthier Communities Today and in the Future,” which highlights those working hard on the front lines to strengthen and advance community health. Moreover, we are taking this opportunity to Spotlight our Team, who is making a difference in the lives of our patients, communities and the future of primary care.