CHC Accomplishments and Challenges, One Year in to the COVID-19 Pandemic
A new analysis reports on the experience of the nation’s community health centers over the past year, and highlights health centers’ accomplishments in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the challenges that they face as the pandemic continues and the nation seeks to recover.
Utilizing data from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA’s) weekly Health Center COVID-19 Survey, the authors document how health centers rose to meet the challenges of the public health emergency, adding diagnostic testing and vaccine capacity and rapidly adapting to telehealth to maintain services and address patient needs. Nearly 99 percent of health centers now offer diagnostic testing and together, by April 2021, community health centers had provided COVID-19 testing to nearly 9.7 million patients, most of whom are racial/ethnic minorities. With the introduction of vaccines, health centers were rapidly engaged to reach the hardest-hit communities. Three in four health center staff members and one in 14 patients (7 percent) had completed their COVID-19 vaccinations as of April 2nd, 2021, with the pace of vaccination increasing rapidly and racial/ethnic minority patients accounting for the majority of those vaccinated.
Still, despite their overall resiliency and success in adding testing, adapting their services, gearing up for and now providing vaccines, health centers have been operating at reduced capacity since the pandemic began. The year-long loss in patient visits has translated into ongoing and substantial patient revenue losses estimated at $5.163 billion nationwide over 12 months, an amount that represents 16.4 percent of total health center revenue reported nationally in 2019.
The historic American Rescue Plan investment will boost resources for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, infrastructure and workforce, helping community health centers to provide essential access in communities hardest-hit by the pandemic and restore and expand capacity over time. Questions still remain about how health centers can fully recover given the steep financial losses, and what infrastructure, regulatory and reimbursement support will best aid health centers in responding to remaining and new challenges and maintaining the successes they achieved during the pandemic. Still, the findings demonstrate that health centers can effectively adapt and rapidly use federal investments to meet the needs of their patients and communities and will be central to the nation’s recovery.
The report is part of the signature policy series produced by the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative at the George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Related Policy Webinar – Happening Today!
There is still time to register for our free policy webinar: The Role of Community Health Centers as Public Health Emergency First Responders: One Year into the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Date: Tuesday, April 27
Time: 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EDT
To Register: Go to the webinar registration page on our partner site at Clinical Directors Network, or via tinyurl.com/yaddvs3n
Improving Population Health, Advancing Health Equity: 2017 – 2020 Projects
In 2015 we launched our Population Health Initiative, collaborating with community health center and primary care organizations across the country to improve the health of the communities they serve. This endeavor has been at the heart of the RCHN Community Health Foundation’s work even as it helped enhance, in scope and intensity, the local work of health center organizations.
We are pleased to share with you a summary and update of those projects completed by our CHC and PCA partner grantees in 2020. Working on locally-defined priority issues, our health center and primary care association population health grantees tackled problems ranging from food insecurity and housing conditions to juvenile justice and complex behavioral health needs. Each project team developed and implemented innovative strategies to deepen capacity, enhance services and collaboration and promote sustainability to address specific challenges and improve health at both the patient and community level. Taking direct aim at local, upstream social and environmental drivers of health as well as clinical and utilization challenges, they worked to improve and elevate the health of their communities.
The successes of our program grantees reflect their deep engagement, substantive collaborations and committed leadership at all levels. This most recent grant cohort included Access Community Health Network (Chicago, IL), Fenway Health (Boston, MA), Georgia Primary Care Association (Decatur, GA), Idaho Primary Care Association (Boise, ID), Mariposa Community Health Center (Nogales, AZ), Northwest Regional Primary Care Association, (Seattle, WA), and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center (Los Angeles, CA).
We are grateful to our health center and PCA partners for allowing us to work closely with them, and share their stories.
Download Improving Population Health, Advancing Health Equity: 2017 – 2020 Projects
Learn more about our Population Health Initiative
Multisector Partnerships Such As ACHs: How Can They Improve Population Health And Reduce Health Inequities?
A new Health Affairs blog looks at Accountable Communities for Health (ACHs) and how the ACH model and other similar multisector partnership efforts provide an opportunity to focus on equity and the social determinants of health by aligning public health, health care, and social services, especially in the post-pandemic period.
The blog is authored by philanthropy colleagues from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Blue Shield of California Foundation, Kresge Foundation, The California Endowment, Episcopal Health Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Funders Forum on Accountable Health at the George Washington University and include RCHN CHF’s President & CEO Feygele Jacobs.
In the News
The Good Doctor — Jack Geiger, Social Justice, and U.S. Health Policy
A wonderful tribute to Dr. H. Jack Geiger written by Sara Rosenbaum and Dan Hawkins, on the significance of Geiger’s work and the community health center program. (via New England Journal of Medicine)
In the Mississippi Delta, Access is a Word That Can Save Lives
From CNN, a video highlights the work of the Delta Health Center in Mound Bayou, MS to address the many challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Cuomo Announces New Targeted Effort to Vaccinate Workers at New York State Farms and Food Production Companies featuring Sun River Health (Hudson Valley, Long Island and New York City).
CHroniCles Photo Feature
Staff at 1st Choice Healthcare wear their essential worker t-shirts. Corning, AR (2020)