Spend any time around these community health centers and the people who run them and it's hard not to be impressed, both with their dedication to their mission, and with the cost-effectiveness with which they deliver care.
Primary Care Starts Here
Community health centers have been around for close to a half-century because they deliver on both of those values. "If you look at healthcare as a triangle, we are the base of primary preventive care," Wiltz says.
"If we do our jobs correctly, if we bring people in and screen them for diseases and get those diseases under control and manage them and not always be reactionary, if we get people to quit smoking and lose weight, and exercise, do the cancer screenings and heart disease and do the things we do well then we can keep people from getting secondary and tertiary diseases, doing the prenatal care to protect against low birth weight bottles or preventing baby bottle tooth decay. That is our whole emphasis."
"I have been doing this for 30 years. I see patients now who I saw when they were 40 years old and got them to quit smoking and now they are 70 and they haven't had a heart attack or a stroke or developed cancer. That is the benefit of what we do."
Unfortunately for Wiltz and the people he serves his health center is in Louisiana, which is one of the 20 or so states that have opted out of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.