Iberia Comprehensive and Teche Action Clinic are celebrating National Community Health Center week, along with their colleagues within the state and across the nation.
According to their mission statements, community health centers are non-profit corporations that serve a multi-cultural population on a sliding fee scale basis. Their services include internal and family medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, dental, pediatric, dental and mental health, along with labs, a pharmacy and the women, infants and children program, also known as WIC.
A 15-member volunteer board of commissioners governs each organization. The board is comprised of at least 50 percent clinic users as well as representatives from various walks of life.
Roderick Campbell is CEO of Iberia Comprehensive, which operates eight campus sites — one in New Iberia, two in Lafayette, one in St. Martinville, one in Abbeville, one in Merryville near Deridder, one in Many and one opening soon in Leesville.
Campbell said his clinics boast 172 employees and contribute an estimated $28.5 million into the Acadiana economy on an annual basis.
“Last year, we opened a new 16,000 square ft building in Abbeville, a project that cost $3.4 million,” he said.
“More importantly however, we have 27,000 patients on our rolls. Last year, we recorded 90,000 visits.”
Teche Action Clinic is Louisiana’s first Community Health Center, opening in Franklin in 1974.
The clinic has three locations in St. Mary Parish, one in Franklin, one in Morgan City and a school-based clinic at West St Mary High School/B. Edward Boudreaux Elementary in Charenton.
Ten other sites are scattered across Terrebonne, Lafourche, Assumption and St. John Parishes.
Dr. Gary M. Wiltz is the CEO of Teche. He said his organization boasts over 200 employees with an annual economic impact of more than $32 million.
“Our theme for National Health Center Week this year is Health Centers are rooted in communities,” he said. “And we are. Our work extends well beyond the walls of our clinics. By engaging in community service and outreach, health centers are woven deep into the fabric of our communities.”
Gerralda Davis, executive director of the Louisiana Primary Care Association, said there are more 265 community health centers that are located within the state, that serve 426,000 patients annually. LPCA is the state network hub for community health centers like Iberia Comprehensive and Teche Action.
Community health centers also receive at least 30 percent of their funding from the federal government through the Medicaid Program. She said the idea of community health centers grew from President Lyndon B Johnson’s “War on Poverty” in the 1960s
“While political views — especially surrounding our nation’s healthcare systems — are as polarized and contentious as ever, it is refreshing to see that community health centers continue to receive overwhelming bipartisan support,” Davis said.
“What’s so special about Iberia, Teche and other community health centers? No one is turned away. Everyone who walks through the door is treated with the respect they deserve. Everyone is welcomed to receive care,” she said.