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Celebrating the Medical Home of 600,000 Missourians

Doctor measuring blood pressure
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Doctor visiting a patient and checking her blood pressure at the hospital, healthcare and medical examination concept

During National Health Center Week, healthcare advocates are highlighting the work Community Health Centers are doing to improve access to care throughout the state.

More than 600,000 Missourians turn to Community Health Services for primary care and preventive services as well as dental, mental health, and substance-abuse services.

Steve Douglas - director of marketing and public relations with ACCESS Family Medical and Dental Clinics in Neosho - said their focus is underserved populations, including people without health insurance or gaps in coverage.

"We're able to get them a lot of care they can't get any other place," said Douglas. "And if we can take care of a debilitating health issue, or a toothache, whatever it may be, they can get back into the workforce and provide for their family and keep them off of other government assistance programs."

Nearly 75% of Missourians served by CHCs have incomes at or below 100% of the federal poverty level. About one-in-four lack health insurance and nearly half have Medicaid.

Douglas said state and federal funding are critical to their work, especially in rural communities where medical care is more scarce. He pointed to programs such as the National Health Service Corps, which helps connect medical professionals to jobs in underserved areas.

"We need incentives to get the very best providers that we can possibly have," said Douglas. "The people that are in our region deserve the same quality of health care they might see in Los Angeles. So support grants that help us to recruit and train great talent are just vital."

During National Health Center Week, the Missouri Primary Care Association and Community Health Centers are celebrating a $150 million investment in the 2023 state budget that will help expand services.

Missouri News Service is a partner with KRCU Public Radio.

Mary'Schuermann' Kuhlman is an Ohio-based broadcast journalist who joined the Public News Service team in 2008. Previous experience includes radio news reporting and anchoring for WHIO-AM in Dayton and WTAM 1100 in Cleveland. She’s produced hundreds of stories across the country for PNS over the years, served as an assignment editor and helped launch the PNS Daily Newscast in 2012. Mary currently covers beats in Ohio and other Midwestern states, and co-anchors 2021Talks, a PNS newscast tracking politics and elections.