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Celebrating & Recognizing Health Centers

HRSA Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, PhD, RN, kicks off National Health Center Week 2011with New Jersery officials, representatives of the New Jersey Primary Care Association and health center officials at the Neighborhood Health Services Corp. health center in Plainfield, NJ on August 8, 2011.

HRSA Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, PhD, RNThe health centers we’re here to celebrate and recognize today are part of a national effort to bring quality health care to underserved areas.  

My agency, HRSA, supports more than 1,100 health center grantees across the United States.  These grantees, collectively, serve almost 20 million people 8100 sites each year. In New Jersey alone, HRSA provides $134 million in annual support to 20 New Jersey health center grantees operating out of 127 sites.  New Jersey health centers deliver health care to more than 410,000 people.

And they bolster the communities they serve by providing jobs for local residents.  Health centers are proven engines of economic activity, and in New Jersey they support about 2,200 jobs.

Most of you, I’m sure, are aware of the unique and vital role health centers play in our health care system.  Health centers serve everyone; no one is turned away.  Fees are charged on a sliding scale, according to income.

President Obama and the Congress recognize their value.  The Affordable Care Act that the President signed last year gave HRSA responsibility for implementing a five-year, $11 billion expansion of the health centers system and the range of services they offer.

But the law did more than that, you don’t always hear about it, but this law put a very strong emphasis on coordinating the care that people receive and on healthy living so that people are better able to avoid illness in the first place.  It also put a strong emphasis on coordinating the care patients receive and on healthy living so that people don’t get sick in the first place.  

Health centers are leading the way in providing coordinated care to patients, in helping them lead healthier lives, and in managing patients’ chronic diseases before they reach crisis stage.  These steps will improve quality in the near term and save money over time.

In addition, the Affordable Care Act makes important investments in our health care workforce to make sure that we have enough health care professionals on hand to meet the growing demand for their services.  In New Jersey alone, HRSA has invested $31.5 million in health profession programs in medicine, nursing, dentistry and public health.

The Affordable Care Act also dedicated $1.5 billion to expand the ranks of the National Health Service Corps through 2015.  This program pays the school loans of nurses, doctors, dentists, psychologists and others in exchange for their pledge to practice for at least two years in communities that have too few health care professionals.

New Jersey is home to 43 NHSC clinicians, among them a physician here in Plainfield and a general dentist at your Phillipsburg center.  I thank them for their service to New Jersey and America.

sign: Neighborhood Health Center, Plainfield. Primary Health Care ServicesHere in Plainfield, what began as a well baby clinic in a storefront facility many years ago has expanded to include this beautiful facility and satellite sites across the region through which you treat more than 22,000 patients annually.

In that time, you have become an anchor of the Plainfield community, providing a wide range of primary health care services, including adult and adolescent care, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, dentistry, health education, HIV/AIDS care, nutritional counseling and more.

HRSA is proud to support Neighborhood Health Services and our other health center partners in New Jersey.  The benefits you bring to your communities in physical health and in economic well-being are substantial.  Keep up the good work.  As HRSA Administrator, I assure you that HRSA is very pleased to be your partner in service to the people of New Jersey.

So let’s continue working together to ensure that people here in New Jersey and across the nation have access to high-quality health care right in their own communities.

Date Last Reviewed:  May 2017