by Whitney French

This week, Teen Health Mississippi (THMS) is celebrating  Community Health Center Week 2022.  Every year during the first full week of August, community health centers (CHCs) around the country promote and celebrate their work with various activities. This year’s national theme is “The Chemistry for Strong Communities”. The daily celebrations are as follows: 

  • Sunday – Public Health in Housing
  • Monday – Healthcare for the Homeless
  • Tuesday – Agricultural Worker Health
  • Wednesday – Patient Appreciation
  • Thursday – Stakeholder Appreciation
  • Friday – Health Center Staff Appreciation
  • Saturday – Children’s Health

As a former community health center social worker, I am excited about the awareness this week brings to community health centers and the work they do.  One myth that I would like to dispel is that community health centers are “free clinics” that are only for persons who are living in poverty.  In fact, community health centers accept most major insurances along with Medicaid and Medicare.  They offer sliding fee scales to make healthcare more affordable for community members who do not have health insurance.  The wonderful thing about many community health centers is that they serve as a one-stop-shop for healthcare.  A person can receive primary care services, dietician consultations, dental treatment, vision services, medication assistance, and so much more.  Many of the medical providers and clinical staff are local residents and are dedicated to their work and the community they serve.  

Teen Health Mississippi takes pleasure in working with community health centers.  For five years, we partnered with a CHC to raise awareness in communities about services available to teens and assisted with making youth-friendly healthcare services and contraceptive options more accessible.  We have also made presentations to the Community Health Center Association of Mississippi. Our LinkedUp project works with school-based health center sites of CHCs to ensure young people are aware of their healthcare options beyond high school.  THMS has even worked with a CHC system to help them choose a reputable sex-ed curriculum that worked best for their community-based afterschool program.  We also offer a Youth-friendly Healthcare training series that all community health centers are welcome and encouraged to complete.  

This week, take a moment to check out a community health center near you.

For more information on how your CHC can partner with THMS to increase access to youth-friendly healthcare, contact Whitney French, Director of Healthcare and Community Engagement at whitney@teenhealthms.org.

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