Last year, the Lincoln Community Health Center logged more than 25,000 patient visits, helping Lincoln County residents with primary care and behavioral health needs. For some, the health center is a lifeline, providing reliable, consistent health care. For others, it remains an unknown, which is why the organization is using National Health Center Week, Aug. 9-15, to raise awareness of its services.
Health centers across the country provide preventative and primary care services to almost 30 million people, according the National Health Center Association. These centers provide care to people who suffer from chronic disease but also are hampered by a lack of access to affordable, quality care.
“What makes the Lincoln Community Health Center special is that we are here to provide care to anyone in need, regardless of what kind of insurance coverage they may have or even if they have no insurance at all,” explained Health Center Director Rebecca McBee-Wilson.
People who need ongoing care for diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a wide variety of other conditions that need continued treatment obtain that help at Lincoln Community Health Center. That is also true of patients who are in need of a mental health screening or have behavioral health needs. The health center has been serving Lincoln County for the past 14 years.
“We are the medical home for a lot of individuals and families,” McBee-Wilson added. “That means that people get to know their provider and the nurses and generally look to us to guide them through any of their health care needs.”
Mary Jo Koschel is the program manager at Lincoln Community Health Center’s Lincoln City location. She says that people are sometimes surprised to know what services are provided at her clinic.
“We offer a wide range of services, and that’s true whether you are six months old or 70 years old. It’s the full range of care and that means that, in addition to primary care, we also offer behavioral health, immunizations, family planning and more,” Koschel said.
Part of the complexity of the health center is that services are delivered at eight different sites. In addition to clinics in Lincoln City and Newport, the center is also responsible for four school-based health centers in Toledo, Waldport, Lincoln City and Newport. While all of these sites provide both primary care and behavioral health services, there are two additional locations in Newport where behavioral health services are delivered.
While the methods in which services are delivered may have changed as a result of COVID-19 considerations, all of these sites are still providing crucial care to patients.
“One of our goals is to make sure patients are being seen and aren’t putting off basic health care needs,” said Jessica Hubbard, program manager of the clinic in Newport. “Whether it is their blood sugar levels, or blood pressure issues, there can be co-morbidities that crop up and we are really well-equipped to help people not just deal with those issues, but also to provide preventative care,” she noted.
What makes the health center truly unique is that it utilizes a sliding scale to determine payment for service. All sites welcome patients with private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid and are also able to care for those with no insurance at all.
“We are a Federally Qualified Health Center, which means we receive federal funding to provide care in a medically underserved area,” McBee-Wilson explained.
According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a medically underserved area or population is defined as having too few primary care providers, high infant mortality, high poverty or a high elderly population.
“That means that, as a FQHC, we can treat everyone who seeks care through us and every member of our staff takes that responsibility seriously,” the director said.
With COVID-19 limiting gatherings, most of the National Health Center Week celebration will happen online. Individuals are invited to learn more about the Lincoln Community Health Center at lincolncommunityhealthcenter.com or by visiting facebook.com/LincolnHHS.