Why we celebrate National Health Center Week

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Northwest Community Health Center is part of a national network of primary care providers to more than 25 million Americans, including more than 106,000 Montanans. The program started more than 50 years ago as a small but bold effort to provide health care to the medically underserved areas. As your local Community Health Center we serve one out of every three people in Lincoln County.

At the local level the Northwest Community Health Center takes the time to celebrate National Health Center Week to get to know our community better through our community barbecue. While our Executive Director Maria Clemons cooks all the burgers and hotdogs, our board of directors serve lunch. It gives the board and staff time to visit with patients and the rest of the community.

We also take the time during this week to host our annual patient focus groups. A facilitator through the Montana Primary Care Association comes to meet with our patients to collect valuable information that is then taken back to the board and staff. This is just another tool that we use to evaluate patient satisfaction and make sure that we are meeting the needs of the community.

One of our most popular events is our school supply giveaway night. We want to make sure that all the children and teens in our community have the necessities to start off the school year. Often we receive donations from our general office suppliers, but this year we even received some donations from Glacier Bank and The Western News. Itís great to live in a town like Libby that is always ready and willing to lend a helping hand when needed.

Health centers are more than just an affordable health care provider, we are problem solvers that look beyond medical charts not only to prevent illness but also address the factors that actually cause poor health such as homelessness, lack of nutrition, transportations barriers or unemployment. Our staff is unique as we really truly believe in the mission of the Northwest Community Health Center. We work as a team to make sure our community is taken care. As we have seen an increase in our homeless population, I far too often see our staff taking their personal time to help the homeless in our small town. They take them food, provide them with new shoes and even offer them a free shower at either our Troy or Libby locations. They care about every person in this community, which at times the only word I can find to describe it is inspirational.

So thank you for Celebrating National Health Week with us. I want to give a special thank you to all the staff and the board for all of your hard work and dedication to this organization.

Kara Matthews is administrative assistant at Northwest Community Health Center.

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