Hispanic Heritage Month and Community Health Centers

By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Posted September 25, 2012

One great way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month is to visit a community health center like First Choice Community Health Care in Albuquerque. Community health centers are the backbone of our health care system, especially for Latinos, who make up 62 percent of health center patients in New Mexico.

Because of the health care law and other Administration initiatives, community health centers are stronger than ever.

Under the health care law, we’re investing $11 billion over five years to bolster and expand more than 1,200 community health centers across the nation, helping centers renovate, increase services, build new facilities and add new technology. Health centers are already serving three million more patients today than they were in 2009, including nearly one million more Latino patients, and that number will continue to grow. We’ve also added thousands of primary care providers to the ranks of the National Health Service Corps.

These investments won’t just improve health in a community; they’re also a boost to the local economy, creating good jobs in construction and health care. New Mexico health centers employed more than 2,100 staff last year, and, nationally, centers have added 25,000 jobs since 2009.

At First Choice Community Health Care, investments from both the Affordable Care Act and the Recovery Act have added 35 new full-time equivalent permanent medical and support staff. The health care law also supported the creation of a new healthcare delivery site in Los Lunas; including fifteen medical exam rooms and ten dental operatories. The combined investments from the health care law and the recovery act at First Choice Community Healthcare alone have meant capacity has expanded to give nearly 10,000 new patients the ability to receive quality health care services in their local community.

Investments in health centers like First Choice Community Health Care are just the beginning. Because of the health care law, all Americans will have the opportunity to lead healthier lives and be able to get the quality health care they need and deserve.