Federally Qualified Health Centers
Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC)
What is an FQHC? Does it really matter?
River Valley Health and Dental Center (RVH&DC) is a Federally Qualified Health Center, a non-profit community-based health organization. An FQHC provides comprehensive primary health care, dental care, and mental health services to individuals in all stages of the life cycle. As an FQHC, RVH&DC operates under a Board of Directors comprised of at least 51% of health center patients and meets 19 FQHC program requirements set by the Health Resources and Services Administration, a branch of our federal government. These requirements ensure excellence in services, management, and governance.
FQHCs were originally created to provide comprehensive health services to the medically underserved, in order to reduce the patient demand on hospital emergency rooms. They have grown to become the primary health care providers to be an essential piece of the health care fabric, caring for the underserved, underinsured, and uninsured people of both rural and urban areas of the United States.
FQHCs are also known as Community Health Centers because of the strong community-based approach and because of the value of community and community partners.
FQHCs are often located in areas near pockets of residents needing additional access to health care services where there are not enough physicians to serve the entire community, and/or where existing clinical providers are not accessible to the underserved populations.
FQHCs are not free clinics, but do provide their services to all individuals, regardless of ability to pay. FQHCs screen patients for eligibility for their sliding fee scale discount program. FQHCs engage patients in their health care and help patients maintain accountability for their health. They employ support staff to assist in financial counseling, insurance enrollment, community resource linkages, and care management.
Over 50 years ago, health centers began as a pilot project as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Today, these centers generate $26.5 billion in economic activity and over 230,000 jobs while producing $24 billion in annual health system savings.