Heritage Health CEO shares National Health Center Week message

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We are all taught that there are three topics that you arenít supposed to discuss in polite company; religion, politics and money. We generally avoid these topics because they can be controversial and lead to those awkward conversations that most people dislike.

Sadly, over the last few years, a fourth topic seems to have made it to the taboo list ó health care. In an attempt to stay somewhat politically correct, Iím not going to talk about religion, but I am going to hit on money, politics and health care.

Currently, money and politics are creating significant barriers to accessing the health care system. Most surveys indicate that health care providers and patients alike, disapprove of the current health care system. Itís too expensive and cumbersome and relationships have been lost along the way. Barriers like cost, lack of access and a general disdain for the system impact everyone.

People with insurance worry about high deductibles and co-pays and our uninsured population has limited access and are forced to use emergency services when things go wrong. Health care is expensive, and this cost is killing our entire country.

Because of the cost of care, most people wait until the last minute to access care and then when they do, they use the most costly and inefficient access points possible. Things are out of control and sadly, the divide has become so great, it feels like nobody can have a rational conversation about this very important topic.

In the midst of this chaos, I believe that there is a superhero that has been quietly operating in the background, flying just under the radar saving lives and making improvements to the health care system.

Like the alter egos of Spider-Man and Superman, most people discount this superhero because of their mild-mannered and sometimes clumsy nature. It isnít until you take the time to get to know them that you realize how incredible they are and once you know about them, you wonder how you ever made it without them.

Aug. 12-18 is National Health Center Week and the superheroes in the health center world will join together with their communities to celebrate the impact they are having. Community health centers, like Heritage Health, provide high-quality health care to anyone that needs it. Care is provided regardless of a patientís ability to pay and patients with Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance are always welcome. We care more about our patients than the type of insurance they have.

Community health centers are nonprofit organizations governed by a board of directors comprised of patients actively using health center services. This model ensures that patients and health care providers are managing care rather than insurance companies or shareholders. This is an incredible model and it is one that continues to adapt and evolve as the health care needs of the community change.

Heritage Health is the largest primary care provider group in North Idaho with nearly 100 medical, dental and mental health providers working in 11 locations in Kootenai County and Shoshone County. Our team-based model ensures that patients are able to access all of their primary care needs within one system. Your medical provider can consult with your therapist and your dentist can provide recommendations on how to improve your health with better oral health care.

Heritage Health provides care to all ages from pediatrics to senior care and we provide this care in traditional clinic settings, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities and on the street in our mobile units that serve school children and our homeless population.

Heritage Health serves nearly 30,000 patients each year delivering more than 160,000 patient visits. We work closely with our community partners like our hospitals and the other nonprofit service agencies in town. Our teams serve on planning and development committees, you can find us in the parks at community events and we walk in the parades in our communities each year. We provide health care from the heart and we are here to serve our community.

At Heritage Health, our mission is to deliver a health care experience that provides hope, inspires change and extends life for our patients and our community. We have proudly worked alongside our community partners since 1985 when an incredible group of people led by Lidwina Dirne decided to make a difference in the community by starting a volunteer health clinic. We know that our founders are proud of the organization we have become, and we honor them in our work each and every day.

Our world needs more superheroes, but it is good to know that there are nearly 300 of them that show up every single day at Heritage Health with a mission to improve health and make this community a better place. We hope you will celebrate National Health Center Week with us.

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