As the number of Americans without health insurance continues to spiral upward along with the soaring cost of care, there is one bright light in the nation's struggling health care system: community health centers. These centers provide accessible, high-quality health care to millions of needy Americans in underserved communities.
For many uninsured patients, community health centers are the all-important medical home to provide the primary and preventative care that will keep them out of hospital emergency rooms.
Here in Pasco County, Premier Community HealthCare Group Inc. is one of those bright lights. For 30 years, their doctors, nurses and support staff have provided obstetrics, pediatrics, family, behavioral health, pharmacy and dental services to the thousands of underserved patients in our community.
Our Women's Health Center has delivered more babies than any other provider in Pasco County.
This week the center will join with community health centers in all 50 states to celebrate National Community Health Center Week, recognizing the long tradition of service made by this often-overlooked industry.
This year's theme is "America's Health Centers: Home of America's Health Care Heroes" to honor health care heroes such as the health center doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals who have chosen to serve in communities of need.
At Premier Community HealthCare Group Inc., Dr. Marlene Hart is just one of the people who are dedicated to providing the highest quality of care to people who might otherwise be left untended.
Hart has been nominated for the Tampa Bay Business Journal's "health care hero of the year" in the physician category. Sylvia Salazar has been nominated for the recognition in the nonprofessional category for her community outreach.
America needs to invest in an accessible and affordable community health system that can reduce disparities, improve health, and achieve cost savings in health and prevention. Community health centers have been endorsed by the last six U.S. presidents as the most cost-effective source of health care. That's why it is important that Congress reauthorize/support the community health center program each year.
National Community Health Center Week is the perfect opportunity to visit your center. Premier Community HealthCare Group's headquarters are at 37944 Pasco Ave. in Dade City.
Sue A. Hutson is director of marketing and development for Premier Community HealthCare Group Inc.