Written by Bren Cole (Fenway Health), Anna Templeton (OCHIN), and Tiffany Prescott (OCHIN)

Everyone loves a good superhero – and for National Health Center Week 2018 we enthusiastically join our members in “Celebrating Health Centers: Home of America’s Health Care Heroes”. Every day, community health centers (CHCs) welcome and care for 27 million Americans from all walks of life, regardless of their insurance coverage or ability to pay. This week we honor all the dedicated employees in the OCHIN collaborative that are saving the day for millions of people. The following are ten ways that CHCs are truly super:

  • They help someone you know. CHCs serve 1 in 15 people in the U.S., including 1 in 10 children, 1 in 6 people receiving Medicaid, 1 in 5 people who are uninsured, 1 in 6 rural Americans, and 1 in 3 people living below the poverty line.
  • They care for people that are often underserved. Some of the populations that are most often served by CHCs include homeless patients, racial and ethnic minorities, veterans, agricultural workers, and people living in public housing.
  • They serve all ages. 31% of health center patients are under 18, 36% are between 18 and 44, and 32% are over 45.
  • They’re innovative. Health centers are using evidence-based approaches to respond to changing patient needs. To help battle the opioid crisis, health centers have doubled their behavioral health workforce since 2010 and are providing 10 times more substance use disorder screenings, interventions, and referrals. Health centers are also leading the way in connecting with hard to reach populations through telehealth services.
  • They’re always growing. Since 2010, CHCs have seen a 35% growth in patient visits nationwide. In addition to medical services, most health centers offer behavioral health, dental, and vision services. CHCs are located in every U.S. state and territory.
  • They’re accepting new patients. CHCs are more likely to be accepting new patients than other providers. The difference is especially significant for uninsured patients, who are 42% more likely to be accepted as a new patient at a health center than anywhere else.
  • They offer higher patient satisfaction. An impressive 98% of health centers patients are satisfied with their overall care, compared to 87% of low-income patients nationally.
  • They provide more preventative services. Compared to other primary care providers, CHCs patients receive more preventative services, including smoking cessation education, asthma care, immunizations for adults over 65, and regular pap smears.
  • They save money. Health centers save $1,263 per patient per year. That’s an average daily cost of $2.09 for each patient, compared to $3.06 in other physician settings.
  • They’re award-winning. Nationally, 70% of CHCs have received Patient-Centered Medical Home recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

And if you think that’s super – through OCHIN research and the ADVANCE collaborative CHCs are helping to improve evidence-based practice and policy tailored to the needs of patients and providers in CHC settings. Members take part in research in a variety of ways – from EHR data sharing, to surveys or interviews, or taking an active role testing new tools, interventions, or processes to ensure their applicability and efficacy in CHC practice. Members ensure our research stays firmly focused on the practical needs of CHC patients and care teams, equitable approaches to reduce health disparities, and improved outcomes for populations and communities served by member organizations. We want to tip our hat (or swish our cape) to members saving the day by opening their doors to research projects – our research superheroes!


Alliance Medical Center
Asian Services in Action
Bastyr Center for Natural Health
Benton County Health Services
Central Neighborhood Health Foundation
Clackamas County Health Department
Clinica Romero
Community Health Net
Cowlitz Family Health Center
Deschutes County Public Health
Jane Pauley Community Health Center
Jefferson County Public Health
Kodiak Community Health Center
La Clinica del Valle Family Health Centers
La Pine Community Health Center
Lynn Community Health Center
Mercy Care
Monterey County Health Department
Mosaic Medical
 Multnomah County Health Department
Neighborhood Health Center
OHSU Richmond and Scapoose
Open Door Family Health Centers
People’s Center Health Services
Progressive Community Health Centers
Roanoak Chowan Community Health Center
Rogue Community Health Medford
Santa Cruz County Health Service
South End
Southwest Montana Community Health Center
Tillamook County Health Department
Virginia Garcia Health Center
Wallace Medical Concern
Waterfall Clinic, Inc
Winding Waters