The Star-Herald

Pines marks National Health Center Week

CARIBOU, Maine — Pines Health Services will celebrate National Health Center Week 2020 next week, from Aug. 9 through 15.

The event is part of a national campaign to increase awareness of the ways health centers are providing affordable health care in communities. 

“National Health Center Week 2020 will be celebrated mostly virtually this year as we continue to elevate and support the work Community Health Centers have done while fighting on the front lines of COVID-19 to keep our communities healthy and safe,” said Casey Bouchard of the communications and community relations office of Pines and Cary Medical Center.

Health centers provide preventive and primary care services to almost 30 million people and have continued to do so while facing a global pandemic. Community Health Centers provide care to people who disproportionately suffer from chronic disease and lack access to affordable, quality care, Bouchard said.

“While our approach is community-based and local, collectively we are the backbone of the nation’s primary care system. Community Health Centers lower health care costs to the tune of 24 billion dollars a year, reduce rates chronic diseases, and stimulate local economies,” she said.

Pines Health Services provides primary, specialty, dental and behavioral health care in multiple locations from Van Buren to Presque Isle, serving individuals and their families.
“Community Health Centers are not just healers, we are innovators who look beyond medical charts to address the factors that may cause poor health, such as poverty, homelessness, substance use, mental illness, lack of nutrition, and unemployment,” Bouchard said. 

“We are a critical piece of the health care systems and collaborate with hospitals, local and state governments, social, health and business organizations to improve health outcome for people who are medically vulnerable. We have pivoted to serving our communities through telehealth, COVID-19 testing, and still ensuring our patients can access basic necessities like food and housing resources,” she said. 

While COVID-19 continues to exacerbate social and medical inequities across the country, Community Health Centers have stretched themselves to reconfigure services for those in need. As unemployment rates rise and more people lose their employee-sponsored health insurance, Community Health Centers must remain open to provide care for all, regardless of insurance status.    

Bouchard said the mission of Community Health Centers remains crucial today because access to basic care remains a challenge in parts of the United States. Many people live in remote and underserved communities where there is a shortage of providers and, in many cases, the nearest specialty doctor or hospital can be as far as a 50-mile drive in another county. 

“At Pines, our goal is to be the leading healthcare organization in providing high quality, affordable, and accessible care,” said Lisa Caron, Pines chief operating officer.

“To achieve this goal, we have invested significant resources in patient safety programs, quality improvement initiatives, and medical/information technology. With that being said, we rely heavily on and turn to our incredible team, who allow us to deliver that goal to our patients.” 

Submitted by the Community Relations and Development Office of Cary Medical Center/Pines Health Services.

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