This week, health centers across the country are celebrating National Health Center Week, in honor of the more than 28 million patients accessing health care through community health centers like Vibrant Health. Health centers are critical to the changing health care landscape. This past year, with strong bipartisan support, Congress invested in health centers, recognizing that a strong community-based system of care where people have easy access to doctors and preventive care will save lives and reduce health care costs.
We are proud to be part of this national network of medical centers which provides affordable options for primary care. We are proven innovators and problem-solvers in treating chronic disease. We look beyond medical charts not only to prevent illness but also address the factors that actually cause poor health, such as poverty, homelessness, substance use, mental illness, lack of nutrition, and unemployment.
Health centers are on the front lines dealing with complex problems no one wants to think about, including the devastating opioid crisis and the growing problem of obesity in economically challenged neighborhoods – health conditions that, if left unchecked, end up in hospital emergency rooms for costly treatment. We save the U.S. health care system 24 billion dollars a year by managing health conditions and reducing unnecessary visits to the hospital.
Our model of care works by treating the whole patient with an integrated range of services located under one roof. That way, our patients, including low-income families, veterans and the elderly, need not navigate a confusing maze of services to see a dentist or to fill a prescription. Yet, all too often this happens in our fragmented system of care, even for patients who have both insurance and a regular provider. At health centers the goal is to provide everyone with easy access to care no matter who they are, where they are from, or if they have an insurance card.
The theme of this year’s National Health Center Week (NHCW) is “Celebrating Health Centers: Home of America’s Health Care Heroes,” but none of us who work at health centers consider ourselves heroes. Rather, we are people of the community who believe that affordable health care should always be within reach for everyone who needs it. During NHCW, I would invite you to learn more about Vibrant Health by visiting one of our clinics for a tour. I would welcome the opportunity to share the range of services and programs we offer. Talk with our clinicians and staff and find out why health centers are a good prescription for our nation’s health.
Patrick Sallee is the CEO of Vibrant Health. Patrick has spent his career in the non-profit world because it allows him to pursue the issues he’s passionate about: providing opportunities for children, helping others, fighting for the underrepresented, and building communities. Patrick spends his spare time with his wife Chesney and twin daughters Avery and Makenna. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org