Submitted by Sharon Chamberlain, CEO of Northern Nevada HOPES
National Health Center Week 2021 will be celebrated this year from August 8 – August 14 and highlight the work Community Health Centers have done while fighting on the front lines of COVID-19 to keep our communities healthy and safe.
Health centers, like Northern Nevada HOPES, provide preventive and primary care services to almost 30 million people and have continued to do so while facing a global pandemic. Community Health Centers provide care to people who disproportionately suffer from chronic disease and lack access to affordable, quality care.
While our approach is community-based and local, collectively we are the backbone of the nation’s primary care system. Community Health Centers lower health care costs to the tune of $24 billion a year, reduce rates of chronic diseases and stimulate local economies.
At Northern Nevada HOPES, we provide integrated medical and wellness services to nearly 12,000 individuals including: adult and pediatric primary care, chronic disease management, behavioral health counseling, substance use counseling, case management, nutrition, pharmacy, transportation, and community outreach and education.
Community Health Centers are not just healers, we are innovators who look beyond medical charts to address the factors that may cause poor health, such as poverty, homelessness, substance use, mental illness, lack of nutrition and unemployment. We are a critical piece of the health care system and collaborate with hospitals, local and state governments, social, health and business organizations to improve health outcomes for people who are medically vulnerable.
We have pivoted to serving our community through telehealth, drive-through COVID-19 testing, and still ensuring our patients can access basic necessities like food and housing resources.
While COVID-19 continues to exacerbate social and medical inequities across the country, Community Health Centers have stretched themselves to reconfigure services for those in need. As unemployment rates rise and more people lose their employee-sponsored health insurance, Community Health Centers must remain open to provide care for all, regardless of insurance status.
The mission of Community Health Centers remains crucial today because access to basic care remains a challenge in many parts of the United States. Many people live in remote and underserved communities where there is a shortage of providers and, in many cases, the nearest doctor or hospital can be as far as a 50-mile drive in another county. Throughout COVID-19, Nevadans have suffered economically and faced barriers to accessing the care they need and deserve.
HOPES focuses on removing barriers for underserved communities, providing a welcoming and innovative one-stop-shop healthcare model which improves access to care for thousands of individuals and families in northern Nevada. In 2020, we adapted our services and now provide telemedicine for both primary and behavioral health, offer onsite COVID-19 testing and COVID-19 vaccines to our patients.
Congress must act immediately for CHCs to continue to serve as health care homes. Long-term and stable funding for Community Health Centers will ensure we can keep our doors open and close the growing access gap for medically vulnerable communities. We are grateful that Senators Cortez Masto and Rosen and Representative Amodei have shown leadership in supporting legislation that will protect health centers from losing a major part of our funding.
Show your support during National Health Center Week by supporting a health center in your community. We will be there when you need us.
Northern Nevada HOPES is a nonprofit community health center located in downtown Reno, Nevada. HOPES provides integrated medical and wellness services, with a focus on lowering barriers for underserved communities. Services offered include adult and pediatric primary care, chronic disease management, behavioral health counseling, substance use counseling, case management, nutrition, pharmacy, transportation, and community outreach and education. HOPES’ welcoming and innovative one-stop-shop healthcare model improves access to care for thousands of individuals and families in in northern Nevada.
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