As part of a nationwide network of federal health centers, the Atchison Community Health Clinic celebrated Community Care Clinic week this week, Aug. 9-15.

The clinic’s history in Atchison is well known, beginning in 2009 when area physicians, dentists and other medical support persons began offering part-time free medical and dental services to persons with no insurance or way to pay. By 2015, the clinic secured Federally Qualified Health Center status and subsequent funding that allowed the ACHC to provide medical, dental and behavioral health services full time to all community members with or without insurance.

Today the clinic also provides dental and behavioral care in select local and rural school systems and offers health education and resource management for patients.

Federal health centers began in 1965 as a part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty with the goal of targeting medically underserved communities.

“The purpose was to remove barriers to care, reduce health disparities and improve population health while saving money for hospitals,” said Stevie Durkin, director of the ACHC. “Those needs continue, especially during the COVID pandemic crisis and we are here to serve those needs.”

Whether preventive care or treatment for an acute condition, Community Care clinics work to make sure Kansans have access to the care they need and deserve.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, in a recent proclamation encouraging Kansans to observe the care provided by these clinics, noted that these types of clinics serve one in nine Kansans. This reduces the total cost of care and helps to leverage federal, state and local community foundation resources.

Last year these clinics reached a milestone, as Kansans were served through more than 1 million visits.

This year, Community Care clinics stepped right to the front line of the pandemic by screening, testing, diagnosing and caring for Covid-19 patients.

“Our staffing and clinic hours have remained full time and safely ready to test patients for COVID,” Durkin added. “Additionally, when the need for Tele-Health visits was imminent, we provided those as well so our patients with chronic conditions could continue their care plans with our providers through telephone and video services.”

The Community Care Network of Kansas is comprised of 34 community-based clinics with more than 100 sites, such as ACHC. These are the state’s largest source of comprehensive care for medically underserved populations.

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