Community health centers, hundreds of workers to be recognized

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ/KPCA Press Release)Federally Qualified Health Centers, or Community Health Centers as they are commonly called, provide essential primary care services to about one in every nine Kentuckians.

And, August 9-15 they will celebrate Community Health Center Week in Kentucky and across the nation.

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“We have more than two dozen FQHC clinics in the Commonwealth, serving more than a half million Kentuckians in more than 300 communities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the centers have further elevated their services by providing COVID-19 testing and changing their care delivery models to engage more patients and keep our communities healthier,” said David Bolt, chief executive officer of the Kentucky Primary Care Association.

“Community Health Centers are an essential, extremely valuable component of our healthcare system. They are located in underserved communities and treat patients without regard to the patients’ ability to pay. Their medical home approach is focused on improving the health of the patients they serve.”

In his Community Health Center Week proclamation, Gov. Andy Beshear wrote, “Community Health Centers and their teams of dedicated healthcare workers, develop new approaches to integrate a wide range of services beyond primary care, including oral health, vision, behavioral health, and pharmacy services, to meet the needs and challenges of their local communities.”

The proclamation goes on to say, “Kentucky’s Community Health Centers serve as beacons of essential resources and support in testing and treatment in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, and will continue to offer reliable, affordable, high-quality care against COVID-19, and other medical issues, for our most vulnerable and underserved communities.”

Community Health Centers employee a large number of physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals. They generate more than $740 million each year for local economies.

“The Kentucky Medical Association (KMA) is proud of the care physicians and other healthcare professionals provide to more than half a million Kentuckians at Community Health Centers,” said KMA President Dr. R. Brent Wright. “These individuals are making a difference in the lives of their patients and in public health outcomes across the Commonwealth. We thank them for their dedication and commitment to the health of our state.”

“The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky has long worked to support the expansion of Community Health Centers in Kentucky,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation. “These centers are critical for local healthcare access. If we are to move the health needle in Kentucky, these centers must be easily accessible for both preventive health care and quick-access sick care.”

“As we celebrate National Community Health Center Week, the Kentucky Hospital Association (KHA) recognizes the high-quality health care provided by the state’s federally qualified health centers and community health centers,” said Nancy Galvagni, president of the Kentucky Hospital Association. “Kentucky hospitals thank you for providing preventive and primary care to more than 500,000 underserved Kentuckians. KHA applauds your doctors, nurses and medical professionals for all the innovative ways you take care of patients.”

“Kentucky needs Physician Assistants. As a vital part of the physician led healthcare team, PAs practice in Community Health Centers across Kentucky,” added Adam Haley, executive director of the Kentucky Academy of Physician Assistants. “As our Commonwealth grapples with the effects of COVID-19, a pandemic that has stressed a system where access to care in rural communities was already an issue, our Kentucky Physician Assistants are ready to offer a high level of care in those communities.”

“Research has shown that a person who has a family physician as their personal physician has better health at lower cost,” concluded Gerry Stover, executive vice president at Kentucky Academy of Family Physicians. “Community Health Centers have made that possible by locating in communities where either the economy or population density did not support a typical physician practice model.”

To find a Community Health Center, go to: https://kpca.net/map/ql/health-care and search the category map with FQHC.