Community health centers are locally run non-profit primary care practices. They have a mission to ensure quality health care - including oral and behavioral health care - is available to all. Maine is home to 19 federally qualified health centers (FQHCs, also referred to as community health centers), which operate over 100 delivery sites that can be found in areas and among populations in the state with the greatest needs. These health centers share a longstanding record of opening doors to health care for all, providing patient-focused and quality driven care, offering a local response to health care needs while consistently demonstrating their value.
Opening Doors to Health Care for All.
Community health centers represent an affordable option to high quality health care. With discounts in place (referred to as sliding fee scales) which account for a family’s size and income, health centers make sure that anyone who visits a health center will have access to health care services.
In essence, health centers exist to eliminate barriers to care, whether they are travel or budget constraints, or lack of health insurance. In doing so, they open doors to health care at the local level and offer everyone the benefit of having what we refer to as a health care home.
A Local Response to Health Care Needs.
A hallmark of community health centers is their strong tie to the local community. Health centers are governed by community boards consisting of a majority of patients that use the health center as their health home. In this unique setting, patients help to shape their health center by matching the health care services offered with the local health care needs of the community. Health centers also serve as economic engines for the communities they serve by providing jobs and career opportunities for community members.
Patient Focused & Quality Driven.
At the heart of the health center mission is the patient experience. To ensure each patient’s health care journey consists of receiving the right kind of care, at the right time, and in the right place, community health centers remain up to speed with the latest advances in primary care.
These efforts include implementing the Patient Centered Medical Home model, integrating behavioral health care and oral health care, and achieving meaningful use of Health Information Technology - which bridges the best practices in patient care with the necessary data collection, reporting and sharing required to generate informed health care decisions for every patient.I
In addition, health centers have been recognized nationwide for educating and assisting patients with managing their chronic conditions (diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease, asthma, etc.), for working with patients to make lifestyle and behavioral changes to improve both their mental and physical well being and for empowering patients to take a leadership role in managing their health.
These efforts made by health centers at the local level are strengthened by state and national partnerships, which continue to bring the most effective and efficient innovations and best practices in health care to the Pine Tree State and to some of Maine’s most rural and isolated areas.
Improving Lives & Saving Dollars in our Health Care System.
Maine’s health centers have a proven track record of turning dollars spent into local and coordinated health care responses which improves the quality of life for patients - while providing a significant cost savings to our health care system. In eliminating barriers to care, whether financial, travel or coverage related, health centers continue to save lives and to spare patients and our health care system unnecessary and costly hospitalizations and visits to the emergency room.
The success of health centers across the state and nationwide is due in large part to the ability of health center staff to transition reactive community members, who seek health care in many cases a last resort, to proactive patients managing their health with routine care and a focus on prevention.