Administrator Rallies Community Health Center Grantees

Speaking before a packed hall at D.C.'s Marriott Wardman Hotel, Dr. George Sigounas received a standing ovation from National Association of Community Health Center members after announcing more than $300 million in upcoming grant opportunities in the fight against opioids.
Speaking before a packed hall at D.C.'s Marriott Wardman Hotel on Friday, Dr. George Sigounas received a standing ovation from National Association of Community Health Center members after announcing more than $300 million in upcoming grant opportunities in the fight against opioids.

 

I have had the pleasure of visiting several health centers during my time as HRSA Administrator. Each story is unique, but the one constant is that health centers are a lifeline in their communities ... they are increasingly becoming the providers of choice. - Dr. George Sigounas

 

In one of the most expansive addresses of his tenure as HRSA Administrator, Dr. George Sigounas thanked more than 3,500 association members and their staffs on Friday for "raising the standard of quality (in) health care nationwide" by exceeding national averages in diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, children's oral health and first-trimester maternal care.

Based on that track record, he said, HRSA's Bureau of Primary Health Care will invest another $50 million in 2019 to open another 75 "access points" across the country -- for which the agency has already received 600 applications. The result may well prove historic:

"During my time as HRSA Administrator," Dr. Sigounas said, "the number of patients receiving care through the Health Center Program has increased by 1.3 million" -– from some 26 million patients in 2016 to more than 27 million a year later. "This is truly remarkable."

He paused, then added with a smile that he saw no reason HRSA and its health center partners can't "reach 30 million by the end of the year."

The crowd erupted in applause and shout-outs for the agency, one of many such moments Friday morning.

Help Wanted: Dr. Sigounas said HRSA is counting on health centers to play a pivotal role in three priority areas ... the opioid epidemic, maternal mortality and the President's proposed Plan for America to cut HIV infections by 90 percent by 2030.
Help Wanted: Dr. Sigounas said HRSA is counting on health centers to play a pivotal role in three priority areas ... the opioid epidemic, maternal mortality and the President's proposed Plan for America to cut HIV infections by 90 percent by 2030.

 

The Administrator observed that grantees have already shown their mettle in all three arenas. HRSA-supported health centers:

  • Increased the number of patients currently in treatment for a substance abuse disorder from about 168,500 to 212,418 in the past year alone;
  • Bolstered their maternal health staffs by 17 percent over the past 5 years -- and now safely deliver some 178,000 babies annually;
  • And helped the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program retain in treatment 165,000 people living with the virus, most of them desperately poor minorities -- while administering almost two million  HIV tests annually. About half of Ryan White  HIV/AIDS program recipients are health centers, and both BPHC and HAB are expected to serve central roles in the Administration's proposed HIV plan.

"Over the past 3 years, health centers have seen a 37 percent increase in mental health services, and a 44 percent increase in substance use disorder services," Dr. Sigounas said. "By providing the best possible care to your patients, you are also building stronger reputations in your communities as quality leaders. That is good for the people you serve and good for your business as well."

Image showing HRSA's 5 FY2019 Opioids Funding Opportunities

Dr. Sigounas explained that new opioid funding will be spread across five major program areas, encompassing multiple bureaus and offices, and leading to a broad expansion of the behavioral health workforce across the country. Under FORHP's Rural Communities Opioid Response Program, for example, hard-hit jurisdictions can request up to $1 million for a 3-year project period. HRSA will accept applications for the initiative until May 6.

Date Last Reviewed:  April 2019