Investing in Primary Care: Insight and Results from Healthcare Ready  

Investing in Primary Care: Insight and Results from Healthcare Ready

In the recent article Primary Care Investments to Increase Community Resilience appearing in Domestic Preparedness, author Angie Im, Healthcare Ready’s associate director of Research and Policy, provides insight into the vital role that community health centers (CHCs) play in the U.S. healthcare system, as they act as primary care providers for millions of Americans.

“Health centers play an indispensable role in addressing the multifaceted needs of communities, particularly for vulnerable populations. The significance of these centers becomes especially evident during crises, which can lead to a rapid influx of patients that overwhelms health facilities and causes other disruptions to health access. When that occurs, health centers must shift operations to expand services while continuing to provide care for existing patients who often have more complex conditions than the general population,” says Im in the article.

Recognizing the critical role of CHCs and other types of safety-net clinics in addressing health disparities across the U.S., Healthcare Ready focuses efforts on supporting and enhancing their capacity, often through collaborations for greater impact. As one example, Healthcare Ready partnered with the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved (ACU) to provide free resources to CHCs as part of the Restoring the Healthcare Workforce for Equity initiative. They include informational policy briefs on Disaster Impacts to CHCs and Fortifying CHCs brief, focused on fostering community resilience, equitable response and disaster preparedness, to provide support before, during, and after disasters.

“Through our collaboration with Healthcare Ready, we are able to provide critical information and resources that highlight the role of CHCs throughout the disaster lifecycle, common operational challenges and needs in the face of disasters, existing legislation related to health center resilience in addressing health disparities, and much more,” says Amanda Pears Kelly, Executive Director of ACU. “Strong partnerships are critical to the success of our work as a national advocate for the health center workforce and health equity.”

Investments in health centers are imperative

Health centers staff serve as the frontline for preventative care, chronic disease management, and overall health promotion, making their sustainability and resilience crucial for the well-being of the nation.

“Investments in health centers are imperative, as they represent investments in primary care. Beyond the professionals providing direct clinical care to patients, the full spectrum of individuals working in a health center are essential staff. From administrative schedulers to environmental services staff, all play a necessary and crucial role in ensuring patients can continue to receive care despite potential disruptions caused by disasters. These frontline workers are critical in enabling access to preventive services, chronic disease management, and overall health promotion, making their sustainability and resilience crucial for national well-being,” says Im in the Domestic Preparedness article.

Healthcare Ready has embarked on several initiatives aimed at health centers and their frontline workers: 

ARCHER initiative (Advancing Resilience for Community Health in Emergency Response)

The ARCHER initiative (Advancing Resilience for Community Health in Emergency Response) is designed to bolster the emergency response capabilities of CHCs. By providing essential resources, training, and support, ARCHER empowers CHCs to effectively respond to emergencies, ensuring the continuity of healthcare services during crises.

This initiative plays a crucial role in enhancing the resilience of CHCs and their ability to navigate emergency situations, contributing to a more robust healthcare infrastructure. In 2023, over 700 providers used ARCHER to support their preparedness work in clinics across the country — enhancing their team’s abilities to plan for and respond to emergencies.

The program was developed by Healthcare Ready and the Centene Foundation and includes detailed frameworks and strategies in key areas, including strengthening local partnerships for crisis response.

Restoring the Healthcare Workforce for Equity

In alignment with our commitment to equity, Healthcare Ready’s initiative on Restoring the Healthcare Workforce for Equity (RHWE) focuses on providing support to restore the mental health and resilience of frontline workers post the sustained trauma and stress endured during the pandemic, especially in regions at higher risk of experiencing disasters. Recognizing the toll that the pandemic has taken on healthcare workers and funded by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP), this initiative strives to ensure the well-being of the workforce, acknowledging their pivotal role in providing quality healthcare services.

The program includes a needs assessment, multiple policy briefs, and trainings on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare workforce trends. Key partners helping to develop and implement this initiative included the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC) and All Healers Mental Health Association.

“Our partnership has helped bring high-quality trainings and resources to hundreds of clinics across the country,” says Ariana Gordillo de Vivero, director of strategic initiatives at NAFC.

The work reveals greater shortages and burnout among healthcare workers in underserved communities, while examining the essential role of leaders and policymakers in fostering a positive workplace culture and equitable policies.

Can we delve into more detail around both of these Initiatives. Instead of making them bullet points would like to take the opportunity to discuss them and get into more detail about what the purpose is and who it helps.

For more information about Healthcare Ready’s work to support CHCs, please visit this link to our Equity Initiative.



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