There is a lot of confusion about how the world of healthcare is changing around us. But here is what is important to know: more people have more options for affordable primary care services. Community Health Centers like the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida are expanding into more neighborhoods where people live and work. Health centers have been around for over 45 years and are the family doctor to over 22 million people, according to the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). Here in Collier County, HCN serves approximately 40,000 people a year, 30,000 of whom are children. The care provided is both excellent and affordable.
This is good news for working families who struggle with medical debt, or the millions of people who forgo healthcare or filling a prescription because they are worried about cost. AARP The Magazine recently cited health centers as the number one option “for good healthcare when you're uninsured.”
But health centers like HCN are also providers of choice for people who are insured and value having an affordable healthcare home. Good healthcare starts with having a team of caring professionals on your side. As CEO of the Healthcare Network, every day I witness the value we bring to patients’ lives. When people have a place to go for regular care, they use it and stay healthy and out of hospitals.
I see the patients who are controlling their diabetes; the gentleman whose life was saved by a simple test, and the relief in a mother’s eyes because she did not have to choose between putting food on the table and getting her child immunized. I am proud of our record and accomplishments as local solutions that working together have:
- Reduced income and ethnic health disparities nationwide, even in the poorest and most challenged communities.
- Produced $24 billion in annual health system savings.
- Reduced unnecessary hospitalizations and unnecessary visits to the ER.
- Provided a system of preventive medicine that patients use regularly, thereby improving health outcomes.
The services we provide onsite—primary care, pediatrics, pharmacy, dentistry, even mental health services—allow our patients to get the care they need under one roof and in a place where they are treated as individuals, with dignity and respect. This is what healthcare should be: simple and patient-centered. Public health improves when the gateways of affordable primary healthcare open to more people. This is what we mean when we talk about transforming our healthcare delivery system, and shifting the emphasis from disease management to prevention.
As someone who works on the frontlines of healthcare, I invite you to visit an HCN location in your own backyard, where the work of transforming healthcare has already started—for the good health of everyone.
Mike Ellis, CEO Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida