Community Health Centers

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Community Health Centers

Community health centers (CHC’s) in the United States serve almost twenty million patients per year, primarily the economically disadvantaged, uninsured, and homeless. 93% of CHC patients are below 200% of the poverty level. These vulnerable populations receive their primary care at CHC’s, but tobacco cessation screening and treatment are often not a part of this care. Thus, in some 8000 CHC sites nationwide serving high smoking rate populations for whom few interventions exist or are easily accessible, there is great potential for increased intervention

Altarum Institute recommends that CHC’s screen all patients for tobacco use, record tobacco use status, and provide cessation assistance to all patients who use tobacco. This system change would:

  • Provide an exceptional service to patients and communities
  • Meet the requirements of HRSA’s new tobacco cessation performance measures (first reporting phase in 2012)
  • Reduce the need for future tobacco-related medical services at CHC’s
  • Help to make prevention a top priority at CHC’s