Community health care may not be the most well known social welfare resource, because it is not facilitated by the federal government. However, states, cities, counties and even neighborhoods may have their own healthcare resources. Community health care exists in the everyday lives of people who might not even know it is there. It is there for your neighbors. It is there for your loved ones. Community health care is even there to help you in numerous ways.
Many illnesses and diseases are communicable. When groups of people in your community become sick, the risk to the rest of your community is real. What are the differences between public health and community health care? What are some of the ways community health care benefits you and the people around you? Read ahead to find out how community health care may help you or your loved ones today.
Understanding Community Health Care
Community health care and public health care are intertwined, while not being the same thing. Community health care is actually a sub-sector of public health, which focuses on the health and overall quality of life for definitive geographical regions.
The geographical region most closely surrounding you and in which you live is called your community. Community health is also intertwined with individual health. If one person in the community gets sick, everyone in that community is at potential risk of also getting sick.
How is this different from healthcare in general? While the ultimate goal of healthcare is to ensure the health and wellbeing of both individuals and the country as a whole, like preventing the spread of infectious diseases, the primary focus of community health services is on the overall mental and physical health of a specific population—be that neighborhoods, counties, or cities—and what factors lead to the spread, and prevention of, diseases.
Differences Between Community Health and Public Health Care
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is an example of a public health service. The main focus of the CDC is the scientific process behind disease prevention. The CDC is also a federal government-run organization.
Community health services are often functions of local, country and state organizations.
There are other differences between community health and public health care. Community health blends healthcare with the economy and how it impacts a community’s ability to fight or not fight disease. Or, how it impacts the general health of an entire community.
Another facet of community health care that is important is that it also blends healthcare with the social comingling of community members and how socioeconomic disparities between races, income levels, geographical locations and more adversely impact the health of a region of people.
What Community Health Workers Do for You
The purpose and function of community health workers can vary widely. Sometimes, workers might be tasked with a job that is related to a community-wide healthcare initiative, while other times, community health workers might be tasked with assisting individuals within the community.
Community health workers provide health and mental wellness coaching for members of their community. These workers also provide outreach and educational services, advocating for those unable to advocate for themselves.
A community health worker also analyzes the collective medical data of a region as a means of finding ways to improve the overall health of each community and the facilities providing medical services within them.
Community health workers also provide Home-and Community-Based Services (HCBS) in public facilities and the homes of patients alike.
Services include skilled nursing care, occupational and physical therapy, case management, meal delivery, legal services and telephone support for the mentally and/or emotionally ill.
Community Health Centers & Clinics
One of the most fundamental and crucial elements of community health and healthcare are the places where health initiatives are organized and executed, and where individuals can access health resources: community health centers & community clinics.
The role of community health centers and clinics is more important than most people realize. Even if you do not go to one of these facilities yourself, the services they provide are integral to the overall health of the community around you.
The amount and roles of community health centers have expanded rapidly since their inception in 1965. Low-income patients with infectious diseases or contagious illnesses previously were either left untreated or had to visit their local emergency rooms (ERs) for health care services.
This was financially and medically dangerous in various ways. Community health centers increase affordable access to primary care physicians (PCPs), reduce unpaid ER medical bills and most importantly keep a region of people healthier.
Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) help people on Medicare and Medicaid get the health services they need in more rural, underserved regions of a community. This is especially effective for the elderly and patients with disabilities, which prevent them from being able to travel far from their homes to receive health care services. Both community health centers and RHCs are crucial to maintaining the overall health and wellness of a population in specified regions.
PACE: Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly
The Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is a medical and social services program under the Medicare umbrella. PACE is listed as a provider under the Medicare program, while also permitting individual U.S. states to grant access to PACE programs to Medicaid recipients.
The majority of PACE recipients are specifically vulnerable seniors who also qualify for Medicare and Medicaid alike. The primary purpose of PACE services is to allow the elderly receiving tits benefits to remain living in their own homes as part of a healthy community as opposed to being forced into assisted living or nursing homes.
Once enrolled in PACE, it supplants both Medicare and Medicaid as the solitary provider of benefits for those two programs. Once enrolled it is also possible for only in-network PACE-approved doctors to be seen by PACE patients.
PACE provides essential services such as prescription medications, transportation when applicable, home health care, hospital benefits and more. It is also possible to purchase PACE as a separate health care benefits program if you are ineligible to receive it otherwise.