That led to the creation in 1965 of “neighborhood health centers” under the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) “to provide health and social services access points in poor and medically under-served communities.”
In the early 1970s, the health centers program was moved to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (now U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) where they joined with other like programs and became integrated with Medicaid and Medicare.
The Health Centers Consolidation Act of 1996 combined separate community, migrant, homeless, and public housing programs to create the consolidated health centers.
Aug. 9-15 is “National Health Center Week” commemorate the centers for their service and commitment to America’s under-served communities
One of these entities, Iberia Comprehensive Community Health Center, Inc., (ICCHC) has opened its third clinic at 317 Dernier Street, at Dernier and S. Martin Luther King streets, in St. Martinville. It is a non-profit offering quality, affordable primary care and preventive services at discounted rates based on income and family size to low income, uninsured or under-insured persons.
ICCHC also accepts Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance carriers. The services include medical, dental, mental health and medication assistance.
The St. Martinville clinic is in a temporary building now, but bids will be taken soon on a permanent building. The federal Department of Health and Hospitals has recently given $411.7 million in Recovery Act grants to 24 community health centers around Louisiana. ICCHC, while clinics in New Iberia and Abbeville as well as St. Martinville, drew the largest single grant in the state, $805,485, some of which will be used for the clinic here.
“Federally qualified health centers” like ICCHC are responsible for providing health care services to over 149,000 Louisiana residents, and nationally, to over 18 million Americans.
The centers are community owned and operated under federal regulations that require a 51 percent majority of their own patients on their governing boards. This is to ensure that the clinics are culturally and linguistically sensitive to the needs of the communities they serve.
The goal is also to reduce barriers to health care by basing charges to patients without insurance on a sliding-fee scale, and by providing an array of services including dental and mental health care. They also assist with the availability of affordable medications through prescription assistance programs.
ICCHC’s other offices are located at 806 Jefferson Terrace Blvd. in New Iberia, and 800 Charity St. in Abbeville.
Office hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday – and in New Iberia only, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.