Archived Story

Mary Middleton: America’s health centers — turning vision into reality

Published 7:09pm Monday, August 9, 2010

If you are among the millions of skeptics who wonder about the impact of health reform on your health and family, imagine this:

You are sick with a cough and fever.

A simple doctor’s prescription for medicine might be the cure, but where do you go if you’ve lost your health insurance along with your job?

Here’s where health reform enters the picture.

You might be one of the 16 million Americans eligible for Medicaid under the new law.

If not, the law makes it easier to find and purchase affordable insurance and even walk into a local Community Health Center where primary care services are provided whether you have insurance or not.

Now more people will have both insurance coverage and a place to go for care — two critical components of staying healthy.

A key provision of health reform expands the national network of Community Health Centers across the country and provides people with more health care homes, better quality and lower costs.

That is why National Health Center Week 2010 is different this year than any other, and I am proud to be part of the celebration.

Our theme, “Turning Vision into Reality,”reflects the enormous task before us.

Change is coming to the health care landscape, and health centers are charged with the responsibility to lead and show the way forward.

Enactment of this very important law placed immense trust and confidence in our model of care.

Now it is up to us to define the future of primary care and demonstrate how it should be directed, paid for and delivered with quality, innovation and excellence.

Community Health Centers prove it every day in communities across America.

At Cassopolis Family Clinic, our patients not only experience a whole health approach, but they are treated as individuals, with dignity and respect.

CFC provides primary care services for patients of all ages, as well as obstetrics and patient education.

This is what health care should be, and the prescription is simple: treat people with good, preventive care before they get sick.

The benefits are immediate and widely distributed across all segments of society.

Local hospital emergency rooms are free to focus on saving lives; and the cost load is lightened for consumers, taxpayers and governments.

Public health improves when the portals of affordable health care are open to more people.

And, more importantly, the health center model operates from the bottom up, not from the top down, with a community approach that has proved successful for 45 years.

The real work of health reform is already happening at the local level, and you can see if for yourself at Cassopolis Family Clinic.

Our doors are open to all, no matter who you are, where you live, and even if you don’t have health insurance.

Visit us during National Health Center Week 2010 (Aug. 8-14) to find out more.

Mary Geegan Middleton of Dowagiac is executive director of Cassopolis Family Clinic.

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