Op-Ed: Primary health centers In Puerto Rico, serving communities in need
This week, we celebrate the role of Community Health Centers throughout Puerto Rico and the United States. Through in-person and virtual celebrations, we seek to elevate the outstanding work done by Community Health Centers in the past year, fighting on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic to keep our communities healthy and safe.
In Puerto Rico, last year the centers provided preventive and primary care services to more than 377,000 people and have continued to do so in 2021. Community Health Centers provide needed care to people who disproportionately suffer from chronic disease and lack access to affordable, quality care.
While our approach is community-based and local, collectively we are an essential component of the primary care system. Community Health Centers lower health care costs, reduce chronic disease rates and stimulate the local economy.
At the Puerto Rico Community Network for Clinical Services, Research, and Health Advancement (CONCRA), we are honored to be a part of the community health center network since 2019. As such, we provide primary health services to the communities we serve such as general medicine, pediatrics, EKG, HIV prevention services, and free COVID-19 testing (PCR and Antigen).
We are a key piece of the health care system. We collaborate with hospitals, local and state governments, social, health, and business organizations to improve health outcomes for people who are medically vulnerable. We have also evolved during the pandemic towards serving our communities through telehealth, COVID-19 testing, and more.
While COVID-19 continues to exacerbate social and medical inequities across the country, Community Health Centers have reconfigured our services for the benefit of those in need. As unemployment rates rise and more people lose their health insurance, Community Health Centers like ours continue to pursue their mission of providing the highest quality primary health services to those underserved communities where there is a shortage of providers and difficulties in accessing quality health services.
Above all, this celebration aims to highlight the importance of primary health and preventive care. That’s why we invite you to take advantage of National Health Center Week to show your support for the health center in your community.
At PR CONCRA, as well as the other primary health centers, we will be there when you need us.
Author Carlos Cabrera-Bonet is the executive director of PR CONCRA.