Valley-Wide Health Systems, Inc. is part of a nationwide network that provides services to more than 27 million Americans. This week we are celebrating National Health Center Week. Our mission to provide affordable options for primary care is well established. What may be lesser known is that we are proven innovators and problem-solvers in treating chronic disease. We look beyond medical charts not only to prevent illness but also address the factors that actually cause poor health, such as poverty, homelessness, substance use, mental illness, lack of nutrition, and unemployment.
Health centers are on the front lines dealing with complex problems no one wants to think about, including the devastating opioid crisis and the growing problem of obesity in economically challenged neighborhoods – health conditions that, if left unchecked, end up in hospital emergency rooms for costly treatment. We save the U.S. health care system 24 billion dollars a year by managing health conditions and reducing unnecessary visits to the hospital.
Our model of care works by treating the whole patient with an integrated range of services located under one roof. That way, our patients, including low-income families, veterans and the elderly, do not need to navigate a confusing maze of services to see a dentist or to fill a prescription. Yet, all too often this happens in our fragmented system of care, even for patients who have both insurance and a regular provider. At health centers like Valley-Wide Health Systems the goal is to provide everyone with easy access to care no matter who they are, where they are from, or if they have an insurance card.
The theme of this year’s National Health Center Week is “Celebrating Health Centers: Home of America’s Health Care Heroes,” but none of us who work at health centers consider ourselves heroes. Rather, we are people of the community who believe that affordable health care should always be within reach for everyone who needs it.
Jeanne (Gigi) Darricades
Valley-Wide Health Systems, Inc.