Every year, OneWorld joins 1,400 fellow health centers in celebrating National Health Center Week in order to raise awareness about the mission and accomplishments of America’s Health Centers. National Health Center Week falls on August 13-19 this year, so we will observe the week by hosting our annual Back-to-School Bash for young patients (August 11th) and by rewarding our employees with a series of fun activities.

Community Health Centers care for 25 million Americans, including 300,000 veterans, 1.2 million homeless patients and 900,000 migrant farmworkers. The number of patients served continues to grow along with the demand for affordable primary care.

Health Centers prevent illness and foster wellness in underserved populations, and they create innovative solutions to the most pressing health care issues in their communities. They reach beyond the walls of conventional medicine to address factors that may cause sickness, such as lack of nutrition, mental illness, homelessness and opioid addiction.

According to Adamira Ramirez, OneWorld’s School Outreach and Enrollment Specialist, people need the help that Community Health Centers can provide now more than ever.

“People are honestly struggling nowadays,” she said. “They barely have enough to pay for rent, utilities and sometimes food.”

Ramirez recounted a case in which she was able to make a difference for a family after they were denied coverage from Medicaid for having an income that was too high.

“It was a crazy case,” Ramirez said. “The family was denied for a small bonus they had received earlier this year. Medicaid had prorated that amount into their recent income, which made the family over income by only a few dollars.”

Believing they should have qualified, Ramirez helped the mother re-submit all the necessary income information to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), but again, they were denied coverage because of their income.

“In the meantime, the child was scheduled for a dental appointment at Children’s Hospital for the next day,” Ramirez said. “They had been waiting for this appointment since April. The child had serious dental issues and was anxiously waiting for this appointment, but we had to call the clinic and reschedule the appointment until the Medicaid case was resolved. To top it all off, the children also receive behavioral health services and need medication.”

Ramirez noted that the mother was in tears after being denied coverage.

“She was desperate. Honestly worried,” she said. “She mentioned sleepless nights and how they have been struggling to make ends meet. She didn’t know what she was going to do if she didn’t get the Medicaid coverage for the kids.”

While the mother was still in the office, though, Ramirez received another phone call from DHHS. The supervisor had reviewed the family’s case and had realized that they’d missed some information—the family was eligible for Medicaid after all.

“The mother was so grateful,” Ramirez said. “She cried and cried of happiness…Her last words to me were ‘Thank God for putting you in my path. Thank you very much.’”

Across the country, Community Health Centers like OneWorld are helping families in need access affordable health care and community resources every day. To learn more about National Health Center Week and to see a listing of events across the country, please visit www.healthcenterweek.org. You can also follow the conversation using #NHCW17 on Twitter.

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