August 21, 2019

Every year the United States dedicates one week in August to highlight the relevance of community health centers across the nation. This year’s celebration was held August 4th to August 10th, with the theme –  “America’s Health Center: Rooted in Communities”. The goal of the week-long celebration was to raise awareness about the mission and accomplishments of America’s health centers over the past five decades. We chose to observe National Health Center Week at Curry Senior Center this year and we asked our very own, Dr. Justin Morgan, Interim Medical Director, his thoughts about the evolution and need for health centers.

As you may recall, we introduced Dr. Morgan in our February 2019 e-newsletter.

Dr. Morgan was enthusiastic about National Health Center Week. Here’s what he had to say:

“San Franciscans have a long history of dedication to providing care to the neediest of our citizens in the communities they call home. National Health Center Week is our chance to celebrate the community orientation of our approach to health care for all.” – Dr. Morgan

Since Dr. Morgan has been working in Curry’s clinic for some time now, we wanted to ask him about his experience working in a community health center.

“It has been fantastic, working with so many people dedicated to supporting each other in the work that we do. There is definitely a team spirit behind our team effort.” – Dr. Morgan

“Curry Senior Center is at the forefront of community-based health care. The partnership between Curry Senior Center and the San Francisco Department of Public Health allows our clients and patients to have unrivaled access to supportive services that is often looked at as a model for health care delivery and may very well become the national standard as our population ages.” 

The first community health centers in the U.S. were launched in 1965 as a small demonstration program connected to the President Johnson’s Office of Economic Opportunity. The work of community health centers was influenced by the civil rights movement and the War on Poverty, according to CHroniCles, a special project dedicated to highlighting and recording the contributions made by community health centers across the country. 

The development of community health centers came about as a direct result of federal action to address health disparities.” – Dr. Morgan 

We asked Dr. Morgan about his thoughts on the evolution of health centers. 

Recent health care reform initiatives have introduced support for many great ideas, like measuring health center performance based on quality of care, efficiency in the delivery of services and data-driven allocation of resources, for example. Community health centers rooted in communities are also looking at ways to measure performance in the areas of charity, personal relationships and community connections – which, I believe, sets us apart from big budget, private and non-profit health care providers.” – Dr. Morgan 

Community health centers, like Curry’s clinic, are a key component of the healthcare system, which provides essential access to primary care in underserved communities. 

“The disparities are still with us and so is the dedication to combat them through support of community based health centers. Curry Senior Center is an example of how donor support for the non-profit and public support for the health services center can come together to benefit the community.” – Dr. Morgan

It is through vital partnerships with institutions, organizations, community groups, and the like, that communities are able to receive the care they need. 

The San Francisco Department of Public Health primary care division’s extensive partnership with and presence in our communities, our schools, our neighborhood centers, our correctional facilities and with non-profit service providers like Curry Senior Center, along with our partner community clinics in the San Francisco Community Clinic Consortium, is a testament to the commitment that we in San Francisco have made in our pledge to care for each other, starting with those having the greatest need. Very few cities, counties or states have put so much love into their community health centers – and that’s why so many look to us for direction and inspiration. It  is truly something worth celebrating during National Health Center Week!” – Dr. Morgan

Dr. Morgan encourages readers to learn more about San Francisco community health centers that provide veterinary medical services, as well, since our community clinics focus on care for the WHOLE family, including beloved pets.

Curry Senior Center’s holistic approach allows us to both serve the health needs of older adults, while also providing programs and activities to create a place of community for our seniors. Although the celebration of National Health Center Week has passed, we will continue to highlight the importance of community health centers and clinics that assist the most vulnerable populations in our surrounding communities.