GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (via Public News Service) – What began 50 years ago as part of President Johnson’s War on Poverty is now a robust health care delivery system of Community Health Centers, serving 24 million patients nationwide.

Gerrard Jolly, national director of Community HealthCorps, says health centers provide everything from medical and dental care to behavioral and even translation services, and help remove obstacles that keep people from seeking regular care.

“Just being able to have transportation to a doctor’s visit, and helping those individuals understand just how the health care system works,” says Jolly. “To be able to navigate the challenges that health insurance itself often presents to people.”

With more than 200 health centers in Michigan, dozens of clinics from around the state are hosting special fairs and community outreach events during National Health Center Week, running through Friday. Health centers serve an estimated one in 14 Americans, many of whom are uninsured or under-insured.

Jolly, who was in Grand Rapids to kick off a health fair at Cherry Health, says many people on Medicare and Medicaid struggle to find providers, and either go without care or end up in the emergency room. He says health centers help break that cycle by focusing on healthy habits.

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