And now, it's time to celebrate your local non-profit community health center. From Aug. 6 through the 12, organizations across the country will be celebrating National Health Center Week. The North Hudson Community Action Corporation, based in West New York, will hold a series of events around Hudson County, culminating on Saturday, Aug. 12.
On that day, there will be a health fair at the center's main complex at 1501 Broadway, sponsored by Americhoice. The week highlights the unique characteristics of "Community Health Centers," which are a nationwide network of care for low-income people.
"There are 44 million uninsured people in the nation, and lot of people live in areas that don't have doctors and basic health care," said Leslie Morris, director of community relations for the NJ Primary Care Association. "So our health centers are really a safety net. More people are becoming uninsured and don't have anywhere to go. Health centers can't turn anyone away regardless of ability to pay or insurance status."
The NHCAC, which runs its operation through federal, state and local funding, offers care to about 160,000 patients a year at health centers in Hoboken, North Bergen, Jersey City, Union City, West New York and Passaic. Their human and social services component is also included at most of these sites, as well as those in Kearny, Guttenberg, and Weehawken.
There are 21 community health centers throughout the state of New Jersey, which are located in every county except Somerset and Hunterdon, and there are about 87 health center sites because several have satellite sites. "Locally, we are doing a major get-together in our parking lot, where we will have tests available and we will have some education on asthma," said Vin Urgola, director of operations for NHCAC. "We'll also have a couple of giveaways and refreshments for children, and people who are not patients can come and see what the health center looks like."
There will be free dental screenings by Dr. R. Reed on a Winnebago. A basketball player will read to children, and much more. NHCAC will also be hosting similar events and health fairs at their satellite sites in Garfield and Passaic City.
Throughout the week, NHCAC will also send out its mobile van throughout the North Hudson area offering tests for blood pressure, and scans for osteoporosis, cholesterol, glucose, and breast exams, among others. The van is scheduled to stop at 714 31st St., Union City; 324 Palisade Ave., Jersey City; 1116 43rd St., North Bergen, and 124 Grand St., Hoboken.
There will also be a smoking cessation session sponsored by Lucile Roberts in Jersey City. "During the week, it's sporadic, and we'll get some groups coming in, but we're hoping for several hundred people to come out during the Saturday fair," said Urgola. "We usually get a nice size." NHCAC falls under the parent sponsor organization, New Jersey Primary Care Association, who will also be sending out a whole series of information on health as well as some of their own sponsors to the event during the upcoming week.
"It's a nice affair, especially when it's a national recognized," said Urgola. "They give is posters to circulate and we get larger organizations to come out and help."
Throughout the county
Also hosting events throughout the county will be Horizon Health Center, which will be hosting its health fair on Aug. 9 at Journal Square in Jersey City from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the Jersey City Family Health Center, which will host its fair on Aug. 11 at its main facility at 935 Garfield Ave. at 3 p.m.
"I'm pretty excited, and our constituents are just as excited," said Leslie Morris. "We have 21 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) across the state, which provide quality health care to the underserved and uninsured high risk population. In Hudson we have three centers, and I believe that NHCAC is the largest FQHC in the state."
National Health Center Week is celebrated annual during the second week of August. This year's theme in "Celebrating Patient Voice and Community Choice." According to their main website, the theme highlights the unique characteristics of Community Health Centers.
Role of the health center
"In 2005 we served 322,134 individual patients, who made a total of 1,011,500 visits," said Morris. "Forty percent of the patient population is uninsured, and around the country the uninsured rate has risen under 36 million in 1990 to 43 million in 2004, and 1.3 million of those were New Jersey residents." It's because of the growing need that events such as National Health Center Week are so important for the centers to garner support and continue providing for the community.
"It's also an opportunity to showcase our centers to state legislators, senators and congressmen," Morris said. "We need their support."
Morris said the state has been supportive. "We really have bi-partisan support, so hats off to New Jersey for that," said Morris. "The New Jersey Primary Care Association is considered the model for others around the country."
For more information visit www.healthcenterweek.org.