Last month we celebrated National Health Center Week, which brings attention to health centers nestled in every neighborhood throughout New Orleans. These health centers are community based, patient directed organizations that serve all of our residents. At New Orleans East, LA (NOELA) Community Health Center we work to make sure that everyone—regardless of their ability to pay—has access to health care.
As a member of 504HealthNet we are one of 21 organizations that follow that mission through our 55 sites throughout the Greater New Orleans Area. These organizations are dedicated to treating the whole patient, and providing the frontline of health care—primary care—to everyone around us. Together we are working to build a system of care that is accessible for everyone from those who have private insurance, are uninsured or underinsured, to those who are on a public health care plan.
Establishing a primary care physician is one of the most important steps a person can take in order to ensure their long-term health. Primary care physicians treat the entire patient for their entire life–from allergies to flu shots, from physicals to chronic conditions. It is important to have a doctor that you can go to for any and all health needs. Creating that history with a doctor helps manage your health, and makes it easier to get care when you do end up getting the flu, or need a prescription refilled.
In addition to the health benefits, community health centers also make an economic impact for more than $47 million in our region. These health centers also create more than 500 jobs in the GNO area alone, both within and outside of the health care industry. However, most importantly 1 in 15 people in the US have used a community health center.
Health centers are a proven model that has delivered multiple returns on the investment for the past 50 years—better access to health care, cost-savings, and even jobs. This is why it is so important to support health centers. But don’t just take my word for it—visit a health center near you and experience for yourself how we work to keep everyone in our community healthy.
–Keith L. Winfrey, MD, MPH
Chief Medical Officer
NOELA Community Health Center