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A family medical center is typically operated under a different set of principles than a hospital or doctor's office. A family medical center is geared toward meeting the medical needs of an underserved population that likely does not have adequate insurance and has limited means of paying for the service. A family medical center will operate with the mission of providing quality health care to their community without regard to age, ethnic background or ability to pay.
With many people in the United States unable to afford healthcare, without a family medical center type of facility they would often go without medical care. This is also true of areas with high numbers of recent immigrants. These newly arrived individuals are often unfamiliar with the medical community and do not know how to seek the help they need.
Providing both primary and preventive care to this underserved population is a vital role in the healthcare industry. Preventive medicines is crucial for all people. By preventing major illness the person can remain more active in their family and in their jobs. They can avoid sick days and continue to earn money to support their families. The impact of medical care is far-reaching.
Some family medical centers have grown over the years to offer more and more services to their community. Once people become comfortable seeking general medical help from the center, they will be more likely to accept more assistance. Some centers now offer ob/gyn services, a psychologist, a social worker, a dietician and dentists. Each specialty provides a great service in keeping the community healthy and able to remain active.
Children can receive important immunizations and screening for childhood illnesses. Adults can receive medical exams that are required for work or school. Ob/gyn doctors provide annual exams, pap smears and family planning services as well as care during and after a pregnancy.
Many centers offer programs to help underinsured pregnant women. The goal is to reduce infant death and disease by providing education and counseling. In these programs the women learn about health issues, breast feeding, the importance of stopping smoking, nutrition and how to provide for their baby.
By providing these services the center is making a positive impact on the lives of these women and their children. By working to ensure healthier babies, the center is actually helping the tax payers. Babies born early, underweight or with other health problems are much more of a financial burden for the system. Every dollar spent in the family medical center program saves money that would have been spent caring for a sick child.
Family medical centers will also provide assistance to women who qualify for federal programs like WIC - Women, Infants and Children Program. This is a health and nutrition program that provides free groceries from selected food groups. The medical center does not run the program but can provide guidance to women on how to apply.
Other services that a family medical center may provide include a discount pharmacy program, smoking cessation programs, translation services and migrant health care. These centers fill an important role in American health care.