Advocating for Health Care for the Underserved

This is a great time of reflection remembering those before us that sparked remarkable change in the United States.  On Monday, February 20, Americans celebrated a holiday that honors the work of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his fight towards racial equality, human rights, and health care for all.  Around the same time that Dr. King was fighting for civil rights, Dr. H. Jack Geiger was also fighting for health care for the poor and underserved. Dr. Geiger helped open the first community health centers (CHC) in Mississippi and Massachusetts.

Thanks to activism in the 1960’s, health care for the underserved has made great strides and is more accessible to those in need. Health care advocacy continues today through works of Dr. Geiger, National Association of Community Health Centers, CHCs and other safety net organizations. Since that first CHC opened in Mound Bayou, Mississippi nearly 47 years ago, more CHCs have opened across the nation and in eight territories. In 2012 (according to Uniform Data System information), 1,198 CHC national sites (reported program grantees) provided services to 21.1 million patients and 17 Colorado CHCs (reported program grantees) provided services to 494 thousand patients.

CHCs, located in areas of need, incorporate values and the mission to provide access to quality, affordable, culturally competent health care, to people regardless of their ability to pay.  CHCs provide comprehensive primary health care (including dental care, and behavioral health care) offering internal pediatric and OB/GYN; maternity and prenatal care; pharmacy; case management services; and disease management programs.  If that’s not enough, Colorado CHCs employ culturally competent staff, including translation services on site; outreach and transportation services; and coordination and follow-up for hospital care.

Working for a Colorado CHC is a rewarding experience where staff make a difference by working with underserved individuals contributing to the betterment of their community.  Would you like to help meet the needs of Colorado communities and work at a CHC?  Check out job opportunities at the CHAMPS Job Bank.

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