Thursday, August 15, 2013

It’s time to recognize the excellent health care delivered at federally qualified health centers

When we talk about high-quality health care, many people immediately think of world-class health centers, like Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia or Johns Hopkins Hospital.

But in our admiration for these cutting-edge medical centers, we shouldn’t forget about the excellent health care that is given in our communities every day at federally qualified health centers (FQHCs).  Since August 11-17 is National Health Center Week it’s a good time to give top-performing FQHCs the recognition they deserve. 

FQHCs are community-based health centers that provide primary care and preventive health care to economically or medically disadvantaged populations.  Health care professionals at FQHCs are specially trained to address the often complex needs of people living with chronic conditions and those with high-risk medical, behavioral or social challenges.

Despite the challenging circumstances facing many FQHCs, many of them go above and beyond to ensure that patients receive high quality, cost-efficient care.  UnitedHealthcare recognizes those health centers that ensure that care is accessible to the entire community and demonstrate excellence in providing high-quality, effective care in its Gold Star program.

This week, the United Health Foundation, a private, not-for-profit foundation, will recognize the superior clinical care and patient support that Gold Star FQHCs provide to our most vulnerable Americans.  In addition to recognition, the foundation will award grants to high-performing FQHCs across the nation, with more than 50 grants going to Pennsylvania health centers. In total, the foundation has committed nearly $40 million to community health centers since 2003. 

Here in Philadelphia, we have several FQHCs that demonstrate excellence in health care.  Among the many statewide FQHCs that we will recognize,  the city health centers operated by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, a group of eight Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) is one that I want to shout out here for their commitment to providing access to quality health care for economically and medically disadvantaged Philadelphia area residents. 

I have deep respect for the work Federally Qualified Health Centers are doing to address the most pressing health concerns facing our communities, and I’m proud to support their efforts.  Keep up the good work!

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