America’s Health Centers owe their existence to a remarkable turn of events in U.S. history, and to a few determined community health and civil rights activists working in low-income communities during the 1960s. Millions of Americans, living in inner-city neighborhoods and rural areas throughout the country suffered from deep poverty and a desperate need for health care. Among those determined to seek change was H. Jack Geiger, then a young doctor and civil rights activist. Geiger had studied in South Africa and witnessed how a pioneering community health model had wrought astonishing improvements in public health. You can view a video of Dr. Geiger recalling the early days of the Community Health Center Movement at the 2010 NACHC Policy and Issues Forum. You can also view a timeline of the Community Health Center movement by visiting this link.
In the 1960s, as President Johnson’s declared “War on Poverty” began to ripple through America, the first proposal for the U.S. version of a Community Health Center sprung to life at the Office of Economic Opportunity. Funding was approved in 1965 for the first two neighborhood health center demonstration projects, one in Boston, Massachusetts, and the other in Mound Bayou, Mississippi [View video, Out in the Rural].
Today, there are over 1,200 Community Health Centers serving more than 24 million people at over 9,200 sites located throughout all 50 states and U.S. territories. Every day, health centers meet escalating health needs and bring good health to people without regard to family income, health insurance status, race, culture or health condition. In communities fortunate enough to have a health center, fewer babies die, emergency room lines are shorter and people live longer, healthier lives.
Resources/Links for Media:
If you are a member of the news media and would like to learn more about the mission and work of health centers, or wish to interview a health center professional or patient, please contact:
Amy Simmons Farber
NACHC Communications Director
Phone: 301 347-0400
Mobile: (202) 309-0338