This year, America’s Community Health Centers have celebrated 50 years of success in expanding access to quality and affordable primary and preventive health care services to millions of uninsured and otherwise medically-underserved people nationwide.
Since 2012, CVS Health and the CVS Health Foundation have worked with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) to help increase access to quality health care and produce better health outcomes. Through the partnership, meaningful progress has been made toward improving care coordination, better managing chronic conditions and increasing access to care in local community health centers nationwide.
Recently, NACHC’s Malvise A. Scott, Senior Vice President for Partnership and Resource Development, discussed with CVS Health in Action Blog the impact of community health centers over the past 50 years.
1. Health in Action: What is the mission of the National Association of Community Health Centers?
Malvise Scott: The mission of the National Association of Community Health Centers is to promote high quality, comprehensive and affordable health care that is coordinated and community-directed for all medically underserved populations in communities nationwide.
2. HIA: Do you think there’s been an increase in demand for quality health care in communities?
MS: The demand for affordable and quality care only increases as time goes on. In the next two to five years, I expect even more changes and an even greater number of patients in the system. It’s not all about lack of coverage any more because even if you have insurance it doesn’t always mean you have a place to go when you need health care.
Historically, health center patients have mainly been women and children but today we’re providing care for more seniors than ever before. In the next couple of years we will see more insured patients, more managed care services, an increased use of technology and an even greater emphasis on value.
3. HIA: What services are most in-demand in community health centers?
MS: While it depends on the particular health centers across the country, we’ve seen some trends in the services required. The more prevalent services are those related to chronic disease management, including hypertension, diabetes, depression, heart disease and respiratory issues including asthma.
In addition, community health centers nationwide have identified the barriers many patients have when accessing primary care. This has led to an increased demand for enabling services such as translation, transportation, outreach and health education.
4. HIA: What does the 50th anniversary mean to NACHC? How are you celebrating this milestone?
MS: It’s amazing to see the impact community health centers have had over the past 50 years. In 1965, there were five neighborhood health centers in Dorchester, MA; Mound Bayou, MS, Denver, CO; Chicago, IL and New York, NY and, remarkably, they are all still in existence. And today, 1,300 health centers are treating more than 23 million patients in more than 9,000 locations.
The 50th anniversary celebration has engaged thousands of health center staff, board members, and countless numbers of public and private supporters including representatives from governments at all levels, foundations such as the CVS Health Foundation, vendors and others that support our mission. Throughout the year, many have been in attendance at NACHC’s major conferences and have participated in other major events, including National Health Center Week which was in August. All of these exciting activities have provided sponsors with unique opportunities to highlight their commitment and support of America’s community health centers as they work to provide affordable health care access to millions of people nationwide.
5. HIA: What are NACHC’s goals for 2016?
MS: While our goal remains the same - providing affordable access to quality care in communities nationwide - we will be focusing on some key areas for the remainder of 2015 and into 2016 including:
- We will share more data around the value issue to ensure that people understand that funding community health centers is a worthwhile investment.
- We will invest in more research and look at the risk factors that impact health care by looking at the risk adjustments and social determinants of health.
- We will also increase the use of technology to help analyze and evaluate these new metrics.
- We will increase the number of patients receiving care while maintaining quality and documenting value.
6. HIA: How has the partnership between the CVS Health Foundation and NACHC made an impact on community health centers?
MS: By partnering with the CVS Health Foundation, community health center grantees have had the opportunity to expand and develop innovative approaches for chronic disease management. They’ve also had the opportunity to experiment with methodologies to address the needs of different populations. For example, some grantees have been able to implement online patient portals, increase monitoring services and expand health education classes.
7. HIA: How can people get involved with NACHC and raise awareness around the importance of providing underserved populations with access to quality health care?
MS: Those who want to get involved can support community health centers on a local level. It’s also important to note that donations don’t have to be monetary. When I worked in a health center, we had art donated to us which enhanced the overall appearance of our health center and we were very grateful for the thoughtful contribution of someone in the community. Anything and everything can go a long way in supporting the accessibility of quality care in underserved communities. We also need people who can serve as our brand ambassadors and share our story with others.
About Malvise A. Scott:
Malvise A. Scott has been with the National Association of Community Health Centers for the past 20 years and is currently the Senior Vice President for Partnership and Resource Development. In this role, Malvise collaborates with corporations and foundations to secure essential resources for community health centers around the country that enable them to successfully provide health care services to people in their local communities.