Community Health Centers: Expanding Access to Care in Underserved Areas
The C.W. Williams Community Health Center in Charlotte, North Carolina was created in 1981 when local leaders Peggy Beckwith, founder of the local Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation; Dr. John Murphy, a local dentist; and Rowe "Jack" Motley, the first African-American county Commissioner, filled out an application to create a community health center. Mr. Motley drove to Washington, D.C. to submit their application. Their application was accepted and the C.W. Williams Community Health Center was created.
On May 3, 2012, Alexia Kelley, Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships visited the C.W. Williams Community Health Center. She shared the news that a total of $730 million was being awarded across the country to community health centers, and that C.W. Williams Center had been awarded $500,000 to create a dental clinic. Dentists are in short supply in North Carolina and ranks 47th in dentist-to-population ratio. The new funding will greatly expand access to care.
According Health Center CEO Beverly Irby, C.W. Williams is poised to become a medical home to a even greater number of underserved individuals “Our Board of Directors and key management staff are actively engaged in strategic planning to open new sites, particularly on the east side of Charlotte and other underserved neighborhoods.” Just last year, the Center served over 10,000 individual patients.
For more than 40 years, community health centers have delivered comprehensive, high-quality preventive and primary care to patients where they live, and the Affordable Care Act makes a major investment in expanding their ability to serve patients. A total of $730 million was awarded to help community health centers across the country serve people who are low-income and vulnerable, expand their facilities and create jobs.
Lisa Carr is Associate Director of the Partnership Center at the Department of Health and Human Services
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