Community Health Centers (CHCs) are nonprofit organizations that provide integrated primary medical, dental, and behavioral health care to patients regardless of ability to pay. CHCs receive federal and state funding to provide primary care services to publicly and privately insured patients, and the uninsured by offering a sliding fee scale that limits out-of-pocket expenses depending on income level. This business model is what enables CHCs to care for vulnerable and underserved populations across the country in both rural and urban areas. Many CHCs also receive additional funding from government agencies or private grant opportunities to provide care to certain special populations, including homeless individuals, seasonal and migrant farmworkers, individuals living with HIV/AIDS, and students.
Healthcare professionals who have a desire to work with underserved and/or special populations will find that CHCs offer the opportunity to provide outstanding patient care to diverse groups of patients, while also offering competitive salaries and benefits to staff. In Colorado, CHCs in both rural and urban areas care for special populations with unique needs, and offer providers and staff rewarding opportunities to develop innovative approaches to caring for these patients. Some examples of how CHCs provide exceptional primary care services to special populations include:
- Valley-Wide Health Systems, Inc. serving Alamosa, Bent, Cheyenne, Conejos, Costilla, Crowley, Delta, Fremont, Garfield, Kit Carson, Mesa, Mineral, Otero, Rio Grande and Saguache counties in Southern Colorado has a dedicated Agricultural Worker Health Program. This program works with local communities to do outreach and provide access to medical, dental, and behavioral health services for migrant and seasonal agricultural workers, as well as the homeless.
- Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), serving the Denver metro area and Bent County, provides a variety of comprehensive programs aimed at improving access to housing and health care for Colorado’s homeless population. In addition to operating 18 health care service delivery sites, CCH also offers affordable housing, residential treatment, and comprehensive support services to individuals and families across the state experiencing homelessness. Included in CCH’s supportive services are: street outreach, veteran programs, and Native American Talking Circles to address substance abuse, among others.
- Metro Community Provider Network (MCPN), serving the Denver metro area, operates a number of specialty sites and programs for special populations. The MCPN Refugee Clinic supports newly arriving refugees, asylees, and other eligible individuals resettling in Colorado with medical screening and establishing a medical home. The MCPN Ryan White HIV Clinic offers free and low-cost confidential medical, dental, and support services for individuals in the Denver area living with HIV/AIDS.
- Summit Community Care Clinic, serving Summit County, is one of eight CHCs that operate school-based health centers. School-based health centers are integrated primary care clinics located within a school, with the purpose of caring for students, staff, and community members. Summit School District – School Based Health Centers (SSD-SBHC) provide quality medical care, oral health, and behavioral health services to students and staff at four sites in the Summit School District. Students and families without insurance can be seen at school-based health centers on a sliding fee scale, and students and families can also expect to receive culturally-competent care from bilingual providers at most sites.
The four Colorado CHCs listed above are a just a small sampling of the CHCs that are providing exceptional and innovative care to special populations across the state. Visit CCHN’s website to learn more about Colorado’s 20 Community Health Center organizations and the work they do to care for all members of their communities.
Are you interested in a mission driven career that helps make a difference in patients’ lives? Check out the Mission Driven Careers Job Board or the CHAMPS Job Opportunity Bank for more information about rewarding careers with a Colorado CHC. To learn more about Colorado’s CHCs and other great work they are doing, visit CCHN’s website.