Community Health Center of Northeast Oklahoma, Inc. marked National Health Center week Tuesday with a special ribbon cutting and open house at its Afton clinic location, one of three serving the region's medically underserved.

Community Health Center of Northeast Oklahoma, Inc. held a dual ribbon cutting ceremony and an open house to mark National Health Center Week 2018. The event was part of a national campaign during the week of Aug. 12-18 to raise awareness about the mission and accomplishments of America’s Health Centers and the dedicated staff who bring health care to the medically underserved.

Representatives of several communities came together as a show of support and interest in the great work being done at the Afton Community Health Center. Joining staff and board members Rick Littlefield and Billy M. Harrison were Dan Weiser, Debbie Gaines, Brandy Smith, Dee Robinson, Monica Bagwell, Joel Powell, J.R. Morris, Dee Porter, Mark Londagin, Teresa Colby, Norman Hildebrand, Jordan Barlow, Jim Ellis, Joe Capolino, Tony Cordray, Cathy Abram, Cindy Todd, Shannon Epperson, Kara Hemphill, Mandy Smith, Gary Crow, Nick Bowers, Shelby Crum, Jeff Underwood and Laura Carter.

Community Health Center of Northeast Oklahoma, Inc. is part of a nationwide network of health centers that serve more than 27 million Americans. Health centers have compiled a significant record of success that includes:

Producing $24 billion in annual health system savings; Reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and unnecessary visits to the emergency room; Treating patients for a fraction of the average cost of one emergency room visit; Maintaining patient satisfaction levels of nearly 100 percent; Serving more than one in six Medicaid beneficiaries for less than two percent of the national Medicaid budget; Lowering the cost of children’s primary care by approximately 35 percent

The heroes who work at health centers and help make affordable health care possible for people in need are at the center of this year’s NHCW. More than 205,000 people work at health centers in positions that include clinicians, nurses, behavioral health specialists, and much more. Working together, these health care heroes produce innovative solutions to the most pressing health care issues in their communities. They reach beyond the walls of conventional medicine to address the factors that may cause sickness, such as lack of nutrition, mental illness, homelessness and substance use disorders. It is their work that has helped reduce health care costs and reduce chronic disease, generating a record of success and along with it a long tradition of bipartisan support in Congress.

The theme of this year’s National Health Center Week is “Celebrating Health Centers: Home of America’s Health Care Heroes”. “None of us who work at health centers consider ourselves heroes”, said Patrick Peer, CEO. “Rather, we are people of the community who believe that affordable health care should always be within reach for everyone who needs it.”

During NHCW we invite you to learn more about health centers and find out why health centers are a good prescription for our nation’s health. For information about our clinic and the work we do, go to www.chcneo.com, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or stop by one of our locations in Afton, Grove or Welch.

Lee Hilliard, D.Min., Th.D., FIC, is the Outreach Specialist at the Community Health Center of Northeast Oklahoma. Follow him on Twitter @chcneo, Instagram @Community Health Center NEOK and Facebook at Community Health Center of Northeast Oklahoma, Inc. Email to lhilliard@chcneo.org or direct cell 918-219-4486.