116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Elected officials across the country will join communities in celebrating National Health Center Week 2021 from Aug. 8 through 14. Their visits and messages to Community Health Centers (CHC) like Eastern Iowa Health Center (EIHC) will demonstrate that not only is it possible to move beyond the partisan divide over health care, but to support and agree on a program vital to our communities.
CHCs provide preventive and primary care services to 28 million people in all 50 states. Without them, we cannot curb health care costs and protect communities from preventable diseases. Health centers provide care to people who disproportionately suffer from chronic diseases and lack access to affordable, quality care. While our approach is community-based and local, collectively we generate a nationwide ripple effect. Health centers lower health care costs to the tune of $24 billion a year, reduce chronic illnesses and stimulate local economies.
At EIHC, we provide Family Medicine, Pediatrics, OB/GYN, Behavioral Health, Medication-Assisted Treatment for Substance Use Disorders, and Dental health care. Health centers are innovators who look beyond medical charts to address the social determinants of health that may cause sickness, poverty, homelessness, substance use, mental illness, lack of nutrition, and unemployment. We collaborate and partner with hospitals, local and state governments, social, health and business organizations to improve health — and health equity — for people who are medically vulnerable. While COVID-19 continues to exacerbate social and medical inequities across the country, we have successfully pivoted to reconfigure services for those in need.
EIHC’s mission is crucial today because access to basic care remains a challenge in parts of the United States. EIHC is at the heart of the safety net, providing more than 11,800 individuals in 2020 with more than 43,000 provider/patient visits. Included in this number are 622 babies delivered at our two local hospitals, 9,339 dental visits and a myriad other services — regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. EIHC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit that works hard to meet patients where they are, including almost all the immigrants and refugees that reside in our area.
We are thankful for the support we receive at both the state and federal level from our elected officials. With their support, we were able to keep our doors open during the pandemic. Now, we shift our focus to closing the growing access gap for medically under-resourced communities. Together, we are working to enhance our health care system and ensure access to care for all.
Secure, long-term funding for the CHC program will ensure we close the access gap for medically vulnerable communities. Accomplishing this task depends on Congress. I am grateful that Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, as well as Rep. Ashley Hinson, have shown leadership in supporting legislation that will protect health centers from losing a major part of their funding at the end of September.
Show your support during National Health Center Week by visiting EIHC, 1201 Third Avenue SE on Tuesday, Aug. 10 from 11 a.m. — 1 p.m. during our open house. We look forward to seeing you!
Joe Lock is the president and CEO of Eastern Iowa Health Center with five locations in Cedar Rapids. JLock@EIHC.co