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Community Health Centers Poised for Expansion

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 4, 2013

Wiltz concedes that community health centers have done an inadequate job of "tooting our own horns." He vows to expand their public profile during his two-year chairmanship.

"We represent 22 million people and I don't think all of our voices have been fully heard," he says. "I would like to see us get more media savvy and have people understand that when you touch one in every 15 Americans that says a lot."

Demonstrated Worth
He takes solace knowing that community health centers have endured for nearly a half-century because they've demonstrated their worth and no one else steps in to fill the need.

"When you look back on our beginnings in 1965, no one expected us to thrive and survive. We have a history of being creative and finding solutions. I don't have the exact road map, but I can tell you that we have enough talented and creative people and enough force and drive that we are going to make it happen one way or another."

"We are like that inscription below the Statue of Liberty: 'Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.' No one else wants to deal with them, but we have always provided a welcoming door. That is part of our DNA."


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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3 comments on "Community Health Centers Poised for Expansion"


Robert C. Bowman, M.D. (9/12/2013 at 12:23 PM)
Dr. Wiltz faces more adversity as he is in a state ranked 40th in CHC economic impact per person. As with the US design for health spending, most states fall short while 6 states benefit. Six of the top 10 states in CHC economic impact have the top concentrations of physicians and top economic impact from all other sources. Also rural CHCs fail to receive a share based on need - likely due to 1000 rural counties that benefit little by various state and federal designs. Many are simply not aware of CHC, FQHC, or Rural Health Clinics. They suffer most from lowest education, health, and other government spending - by design. They also suffer under pay for performance and highest readmission penalities (1 - 2%) - 14% of the hospitals in these 1000 counties, 9% for rural, 3% of urban hospitals. As 30 - 50% of Critical Access Hospitals close due to new federal recommendations, the strain on rural CHCs will be even greater. We should not have designs that send less spending and close facilities and drive off clinicians where there is least health spending per person and fewest clinicians. Our nation fails to produce the clinicians that will accept the family practice positions of CHCs with MD 7%, DO 17%, NP 25%, and PA 23% found in family practice positions. All including RNs have little primary care or underserved primary care training as well. NACHC has been working with A T Still University for over 16 years to produce the PAs, dentists, and osteopathic physicians needed for CHCs. More is needed. State primary care associations should have MD, DO, NP, PA, and RN students embedded in CHCs for preparation, training, and obligation - all specific to family practice positions where most needed. We need designs for most Americans rather than current designs favoring few.

Todd (9/5/2013 at 11:39 PM)
Its about time you expand. FQHCs got a big windfall from Obamacare. Quit expecting urgent care centers to play the role of PCMH and primary care.

Jeanette Wood (9/4/2013 at 2:43 PM)
I applaud your efforts to expand days and hours to serve our communities. I encourage you to offer access 7 days/week to further reduce the use of emergency rooms for non-emergent conditions.