What are CHCs?

Community Health Centers: A Vital Part of our Healthcare System

One might be able to guess what a community health center is just from the name, “community health center.” But what are community health centers, really? And what do they do?

Community health centers, also known as federally qualified health centers, are 501(c)3 nonprofit clinics that provide primary and preventative healthcare to medically underserved areas in both rural and urban settings. They began as a means to alleviate pressure on emergency rooms seeing uninsured patients that could otherwise be served in a non-emergency clinic setting. Over time, the mission has shifted to providing access to quality healthcare in medically underserved populations, and community health centers provide a patient-centered model of healthcare delivery, offering comprehensive services to patients at each clinic.

Community health centers:

  • Provide basic healthcare that is related family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and oral health
  • Often provide referral services and case management
  • Provide diagnostic and basic radiology services, like x-rays
  • Often provide mental and behavioral healthcare and referrals
  • Provide services like smoking cessation support and HIV testing upon request
  • Accept Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, and provide a sliding scale fee to uninsured patients based on family size and income
  • Healthcare accessibility services, like transportation and translation/interpretation
  • Are 501(c)3 designated nonprofits, and have a board of directors
  • Provide a patient-centered, comprehensive care model to all patients

In the past, community health centers have often been perceived as “free clinics” – which isn’t true! Community health centers are an excellent way for all patients to access comprehensive healthcare, oral healthcare, mental healthcare, and other services that help promote the health and wellbeing of patients.

Some community health centers even offer community programs like legal aid clinics, nutritional education, and more! The best way to find out what services and programs your local community health center offers is to call their clinic! You can find a clinic in Arkansas near you using our “Find a Clinic” tool on our website.