Community health centers see big increase in patients

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ)They are the cornerstone of health care for many members of communities across the state.

And yet, their role often goes unnoticed.

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But new numbers show the significant impact Federally Qualified Health Center, or Community Health Centers as they are commonly called, have even before the coronavirus outbreak.

According to new data released by the Health Resources and Services Administration for 2019, 533,787 people in Kentucky now rely on a local Community Health Center for their healthcare. In 2018, the patient number was 492,000.

“Community Health Centers are located in underserved communities and treat patients without regard to the patients’ ability to pay,” said David Bolt, chief executive officer of the Kentucky Primary Care Association. “The centers are an essential, extremely valuable part of our healthcare system. They serve all people, in every corner of our great state. The facilities provide access to high-quality care, improve health outcomes, and reduce health disparities. Their medical home approach is focused on improving the health of the patients they serve.”

The HRSA data reveal key information about patients of the 25 health systems with local facilities in more than 90 Kentucky counties:

  • 80% of the patients are white; 10% African American; 7% Hispanic; 1.5% more than one race;
  • 81% of patients are at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level
  • 43% have Medicaid coverage
  • 14% are uninsured adults; 11% are uninsured children under the age of 18
  • 12% have Medicare coverage
  • 3% are homeless patients
  • Average Accrued Cost per Patient is $793 annually, only a $20 increase from 2018.

“It’s fitting that this data is released during Community Health Center week in Kentucky and the nation, added Bolt. “Because it underscores the value that Community Health Centers provide. The dedicated teams of medical professionals are on the front lines providing care and resources that improve the quality of life for the patients they serve.”

Mental health and dental services are two important quality of life components also offered by Community Health Center providers.

Nearly 28,000 patients now get mental health services at a center, including about 12,000 in treatment for alcohol and substance use disorders. More than 86,000 Kentuckians go to a local health center for their dental treatment.

The number of school-based patients is up sharply since 2017 when school-based sites saw 26,728 patients. In 2019, that number jumped to 44,235 Kentucky school children. Women between the ages of 15-44 is also up significantly from 194,853 in 2017 to 216,859 in 2019.

Local Community Health Centers now provide care to a total of 321,350 women of all ages.

The HRSA data warehouse report also includes information regarding chronic disease management, quality of care measures, preventive screenings and services, medical conditions, and clinical data. The complete report is available online at: https://data.hrsa.gov/tools/data-reporting/program-data.

Select program awardee data under the program type category and then select Kentucky to access state specific information.

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