My name is Andrea Skolkin and I am the CEO of OneWorld Community Health Centers in Omaha and the current Chair of the Health Center Association of Nebraska Board of Directors. On behalf of the seven Nebraska community health centers, I would like to thank Governor Ricketts for the recognition of National Health Center Week and the critical role community health centers play in ensuring equitable access to quality medical, dental and behavioral health care in Nebraska.

For over 50 years, community health centers have provided high quality, affordable health care to all, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. Nationwide, 28 million people including 110,000 Nebraskans received their care at a community health centers. We welcome all people through our doors and are truly the safety net providers in the state. About 50% of health center patients are uninsured, 70% are of a racial or ethnic minority, and over 90% are low income.

Throughout COVID-19, health centers have played a critical role in ensuring underserved and marginalized individuals have access to community-based, culturally respectful testing, treatment and vaccine administration. We have experienced first-hand how COVID-19 has magnified the racial and economic disparities that hinder access to health care. To date, health centers have tested nearly 38,000 individuals and fully vaccinated 30,000 Nebraskans. Nearly all of these individuals were of a racial or ethnic minority. At a time when uncertainty and hesitancy has run high, health centers have provided a safe, community responsive source of care.

The recognition of National Health Center Week by Governor Ricketts is a wonderful tribute to health center volunteer and patient board members and the 1,000 Nebraskans that work at health centers and show up every day, putting patients’ needs first, and themselves at risk for a year and a half during Covid.  They go above and beyond to make sure patients have access to health care and the resources they need, like food and clothing. They are real superheroes on the front line especially as the Delta variant is spreading in Nebraska.

Thank you, again, Governor Ricketts, for lifting up this important work.

written by: Andrea Skolkin, CEO | OneWorld Community Health Centers, Omaha, NE