Community Health Centers Impact Health Disparities

National Minority Health Month takes place every April, and provides a chance to reflect on health disparities that arise from race and ethnicity. This year’s National Minority Health Month theme, Prevention is Power: Taking Action for Health Equityfocuses on the impact that access to affordable and quality preventative health care, such as the health care that Community Health Centers (CHCs) provide, can have on reducing health disparities.

 Throughout the United States, race and ethnicity continue to have an impact on health and cause significant health disparities for racial and ethnic minorities. According to Office of Minority Healthcompared to non-Hispanic Whites in the United States, African American/Black adults are twice as likely to have been diagnosed with diabetes; American Indians and Alaskan Natives have a 60 percent higher infant mortality rate; and Hispanic men and women are twice as likely to suffer from chronic liver disease. The Colorado Coalition for the Medically Underserved’s 2012 Issue Brief on Health & Raceshows that Colorado’s health follow similar trends; approximately 20 percent of Hispanic and African American/Black Coloradans report that they are in poor or fair health, compared to only 10 percent of White Coloradans. Factors such as differences in living and working conditions, education, income level, and access to affordable health care cause these alarming disparities.

CHCs play a significant role in addressing health disparities that arise due to race and ethnicity. CHCs provide medical, dental, and behavioral health services to people who may not have another source of health care, regardless of insurance or ability to pay. Patients are able to access preventative services at CHCs, including help managing and preventing chronic diseases. Additionally, CHCs provide culturally competent care—including translation services and bilingual staff, care teams, and enabling services such as case management and insurance enrollment assistance—that allow them to address unique needs of minority populations. By strategically locating clinics in high need areas and offering extended hours, CHCs are able to better reach minority populations. CHCs are proven to help reduce or eliminate health disparities between populations.

 To learn more about health care disparities among racial and ethnic groups, please visit The Office of Minority Health.    

 If you are interested in having an impact on the health of Colorado’s vulnerable populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, visit the CHAMPS job board to learn about open jobs at CHCs in Colorado. To find out more information about Colorado’s 19 CHCs, visit CCHN’s website.


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