Recognizing Community Health Centers’ Efforts to Reduce Disparities

Here’s something you might be surprised to learn: when it comes to health, ZIP code is more important than genetic code. The health of an individual is chiefly determined by where that person lives and how their community supports healthy living — not hereditary factors that influence health. In fact, there’s a 20-year difference between the counties with the highest life expectancies and those with the lowest.

Reducing these persistent health disparities is something that motivates the team at the American Cancer Society each and every day, but we can’t do this work alone. That’s why we’ve partnered with community health centers (CHCs) around the country to work toward ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to live a healthy life, prevent cancer, find it early, and access high-quality treatment.

The teams at CHCs are doing some truly incredible work. They’re reaching underserved individuals and providing much-needed care. Consider our partners at Great Lakes Bay Health in Michigan, who increased their breast cancer screening rates from 31% to more than 70% with support from the American Cancer Society’s Community Health Advocates implementing Nationwide Grants for Empowerment & Equity (CHANGE) Grant program. In Florida, the I.M. Sulzbacher Health Center increased patient access to breast cancer screening and enhanced patient navigation with support from the NFL’s Crucial Catch program, which provides funds for American Cancer Society grants.

In honor of 2017 National Health Center Week, we’re recognizing outstanding achievement among these facilities with our first-ever national community health center awards. These national awards recognize the best CHCs in seven categories: health screening, public housing, homeless, agricultural worker, consumer board, and children’s health.

Please join me in recognizing our national honorees:

  • Peoples Community Health Clinic, Waterloo, IA
    Award category: health screenings (colorectal cancer screening)
  • Legacy Community Health, Houston, TX
    Award category: health screenings (colorectal cancer screening)
  • BMS Family Health and Wellness Centers, Brooklyn, NY
    Award category: public housing health centers (healthy lifestyle programs)
  • Hudson River HealthCare, Peekskill, NY
    Award category: consumer board member (winner: Alan Steiner, HRH Board of Directors chair for support of colorectal cancer screening)
  • I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless, Jacksonville, FL
    Award category: healthcare for the homeless (breast cancer screening)
  • Great Lakes Bay Health, Saginaw, MI
    Award category: agricultural worker health (breast cancer screening)
  • Neighborhood Healthcare, Escondido, CA
    Award category: children’s health (HPV vaccination)

Congratulations to the teams at these facilities — and to the staff at every CHC around the U.S. working to reduce health disparities. The American Cancer Society is proud to partner with CHCs, and we look forward to continued collaboration.