COLUMBUS – The health-care headquarters for nearly 620,000 Ohioans is looking for new recruits. Research released Monday shows that almost all Community Health Centers in the United States are trying to fill at least one vacancy, with physicians the most-needed.

The findings are from a new report by the National Association of Community Health Centers, where Dr. Ron Yee is chief medical officer.

He explained that health centers are typically located in isolated or impoverished areas, which may not be attractive for newly-trained and highly sought-after clinicians.

“We have trouble recruiting candidates who really have that proficiency in language and/or cultural competency,” said Yee. “So, that makes it a challenge for us to get them there in the first place – because it’s not inviting. But we also have others competing for these same candidates.”

Community Health Centers around the country are local clinics that see many lower-income or uninsured patients.

Yee said they are devoted to bridging the employment gap by educating and training their own clinicians. To expand upon this work, the report recommends continued investments in the National Health Service Corps, Teaching Health Centers, and telehealth.

According to Dr. Ted Winslow, chief medical officer for the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers, health centers focus on advanced primary care that addresses the whole patient, including behavioral and medical needs. He said they also are engaging medical students on coordinated care, by training them within health centers.

“That kind of model we want students to see, because we think that will excite them, but they don’t typically see that model in academic medical centers,” said Winslow. “That’s why we want to get students out of the ‘ivory towers’ and into the community, where real health care is experienced.”

Community Health Centers serve more than 24 million Americans, and the report notes two million additional patients could be served if these vacancies were filled. In Ohio, there are 45 health centers, serving over 250 sites.

Workforce shortages are plaguing community health centers in Ohio and around the nation. shortages are plaguing community health centers in Ohio and around the nation.

By Mary Kuhlman

Ohio News Connection