In 1965 the nation’s first community health centers – one in Boston, Massachusetts and the other in Mound Bayou, Mississippi – were launched as a small demonstration program as part of President Johnson’s Office of Economic Opportunity. With roots in the both the civil rights movement and the War on Poverty, the earliest health centers had as their mission no less than using the health care system to change the health and lives of their communities’ residents.
This pioneering effort launched a movement. Today, more than 1,300 health centers serve over 25 million people at 9,200 delivery sites, forming the single largest comprehensive primary health care system serving the nation’s most vulnerable and medically underserved communities. The innovative health center model of care is also uniquely cost-efficient, generating billions in taxpayer savings per year across the health care system.
The RCHN Community Health Foundation is deeply rooted in the health center movement. The Foundation evolved out of the New York City-based network developed and led by Julio Bellber, a nationally renowned leader of the health center movement. Beginning with a single storefront clinic that first opened in 1967, the organization grew to encompass a multi-site comprehensive community health center, management services organization, technology company, and managed care plan. The sale of the health plan provided the opportunity for substantial investment in the broader CHC community. Today, RCHN CHF has evolved into a robust organization, building on its unique history and long-standing commitment to providing accessible, high-quality, community-based healthcare services for underserved and medically vulnerable populations.