Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Workforce challenges a barrier to health center growth

A new report reveals that almost all community health centers (95 percent) are currently experiencing at least one clinical vacancy, and more than two-thirds (69 percent) are recruiting for at least one family physician. The report, “Staffing The Safety Net: Building the Primary Care Workforce at America’s Health Centers,” comes as community health centers (CHCs) are serving Americans in greater numbers than ever before: over 24 million people, or 1 in 14 Americans. 

In Colorado, CHCs provide a health care home for more than 650,000 - one in eight people in Colorado. In spite of the historic growth in recent years among both CHC staff and patients, the challenge of recruiting, training, and retaining needed staff remains a persistent limiting factor when it comes to expanding access to care. This report shows that if all CHC clinical vacancies were filled today, two million more people would have access to primary health care.

The Colorado Health Service Corps (CHSC) was recently re-funded through a partnership with the Colorado Health Foundation and the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). This program supports loan repayment awards, awarding five Colorado family physician residents each year who specifically commit to working in the safety net/CHCs, and moving forward, is working toward awarding more dental providers. 

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