SCOTT DEPOT, W.Va. — The week of Aug. 9-15 is recognized as National Health Center Week, and the COVID-19 crisis has presented an opportunity for those in the medical field to step up to protect their communities, according to a news release.
The theme for 2020’s National Health Center Week is “Lighting the Way for Healthier Communities Today and in the Future,” developed by the National Association of Community Health Centers. This year, the celebration is focused on honoring those frontline providers, staff and patients who have been affected during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Providing services to more than 33,000 patients, FamilyCare Health Centers has restructured services to provide safe care for those in need in Putnam, Kanawha, Boone and Cabell counties and has remained open to provide care for all, regardless of insurance status during the pandemic.
“We’ve worked hard to protect our patients from illness by offering telehealth visits and additional precautions when patients come in to the office to be seen,” says FamilyCare’s chief medical officer Mary Jenkins, MD. “Unfortunately, the pandemic is not over, so we’re asking everyone to continue to protect themselves and others by wearing a mask in public and practice social distancing.”
Rather than having patients stay inside the buildings in a waiting room, FamilyCare issues pagers to those who need to enter the facility, allowing for patients to wait in their cars or outside until they are ready to be seen.
Cheryl Carey, site manager at the St. Albans FamilyCare location, says that all prescreening is taken into consideration in order to provide the safest environment possible. “If there are any of our COVID-19 questions that are answered ‘yes,’ then they are instructed to go to our COVID-19 testing area, and if their examination warrants a test, then they are given one at that time.” The patient is then asked to quarantine until test results are returned.
Opening as a birth center in Hurricane, West Virginia, in 1989, FamilyCare has evolved into 15 health centers in four counties in southwestern West Virginia. The agency — a federally qualified health center — has expanded to provide adult health care, OB/GYN, birth services, pediatrics, family medicine, dental care and behavioral health, addiction and social services at its various locations.
In general, Community Health Centers (CHC) help to lower health care costs to the tune of $24 billion per year nationwide. CHCs typically provide care to people who disproportionately suffer from chronic diseases and lack access to affordable, quality care.