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Community health care centers are a benefit for everyone

Each year on the second week of August, Wood River Health Services joins in the celebration of National Health Center Week, which provides an opportunity for health centers to showcase themselves to the community and to honor their staffs and supporters.

National Health Center Week (Aug. 11-17) is a weeklong campaign to raise awareness about the mission and accomplishments of America’s community health centers as local solutions for affordable and accessible health care.

One of the bright spots in America’s health care system, community health centers have been in existence for more than 45 years and have compiled a significant record of success by:

• Reducing income and ethnic health disparities nationwide, even in the poorest and most challenged communities.

• Producing $24 billion in annual health system savings.

• Reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and unnecessary visits to the ER

• Generating a system of preventive medicine that patients use regularly to stay healthy, thus saving lives.

Health centers serve more than 22 million people nationwide and are increasingly becoming the trusted provider of choice for many families, whether they are insured or not. Evidence shows patients choose health centers because they are convenient, affordable and offer a range of services from a team of caring professionals. Studies also show the quality of care at a health center is as good as or better than private practices.

This year’s theme, “Celebrating America’s Health Centers: Transforming Health Care in Our Local Communities,” recognizes the fact that, though community health centers like Wood River Health are central to the ongoing health care reforms across the country, we have also always been about transforming health care delivery through primary care and prevention, one patient at a time, in our own local communities.

Every day in our waiting room I witness the value of having a patient-centered health care home in the community. When people have a place to go for regular care, they use it and stay healthier.

Wood River Health Services provides a range of services onsite — primary care, dentistry, pediatrics, social services, behavioral health services and more — to approximately 9,000 patients in southwestern Rhode Island and southeastern Connecticut. We are the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Program provider for the area; provide lab work, X-ray and mammography scans through our association with Westerly Hospital; work with the national Chronic Care Collaborative to pioneer new methods to better treat long-term illnesses; and provide a focused Women’s Health program, among other highlights.

Our patients not only get the care they need under one roof, but they are treated as individuals, with dignity and respect. This is what health care should be, and what we celebrate during National Health Center Week.

In a very real sense, the entire reform movement is based on the success of the work done at community health centers. We have always provided affordable, quality care in a patient-centered environment that stresses wellness and prevention over maximizing profits by moving sick people through the system as quickly as possible.

During Health Center Week, we at Wood River Health Services will celebrate and thank each other in a number of ways, including a two-hour radio broadcast on WBLQ (8-10 a.m. on Tuesday), a blood drive (10 a.m.-1 p.m., Tuesday), a special employee appreciation celebration, and a number of public, health-related informational activities in the health center lobby throughout the week.

We also will put our best face on to show the world and our neighbors why working in a community health center is work of which we are all very proud.

To learn more about the community health center in your own back yard, go to the Wood River Health Services website at

Or better yet, stop by during Health Center Week and ask for a tour! I love showing off our center and our staff!

David Henley

development coordinator

Wood River Health Services

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