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Airline travel and more disrupted by global tech outage; Nevada gets OK to sell federal public lands for affordable housing;Science Moms work to foster meaningful talks on climate change; Scientists reconsider net-zero pledges to reach climate goals.

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As Trump accepts nomination for President, delegates emphasize themes of unity and optimism envisioning 'new golden age.' But RNC convention was marked by strong opposition to LGBTQ rights, which both opened and closed the event.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Amid Record Demand, Community Health Centers Confront Key Obstacles

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Thursday, August 10, 2023   

This week is National Health Center Week.

The facilities help to close care gaps in underserved communities, and regional and national leaders hope recruiting efforts and pleas for federal funding pay off as they try to meet demand. Last year, Community Health Centers served a record 31.5 million patients in places such as rural areas, communities of color and tribal areas. In 2021, nearly 136,000 individuals in North and South Dakota sought care at these facilities.

Shelly Ten Napel, CEO of the Community Healthcare Association of the Dakotas, said like other sectors, they face pressure in finding enough staff members to keep centers operating.

"The resources are there, the desire's there, the need's there," Ten Napel explained. "It's just the challenge of recruiting folks."

The shortages are especially felt among nurses who help with primary care and those who see dental patients. Her organization hopes to expand outreach to convince more people to enter the fields. While there are current resources to fill open positions, a federal funding extension expires at the end of September. There is bipartisan support to address it, but the Congressional recess creates uncertainty.

Susan Burton, director of national grassroots advocacy for the National Association of Community Health Centers, said with Capitol Hill in recess, advocates are inviting Congressional members from both sides of the aisle to visit a health center in their districts to better understand the urgent need for continued resources.

"Community health centers are small businesses, and imagine being a small business and not knowing if you're going to have funding coming in to pay your vendors or to sign a contract with your employees," Burton pointed out. "If community health centers don't know that they're going to have funding year to year, it's really difficult for them to recruit and retain providers."

One in 11 Americans are health-center patients, and Ten Napel noted they serve everybody, regardless of their ability to pay.

"We serve people on a sliding-fee scale based on income," Ten Napel emphasized. "Health centers really try to wrap around a whole range of services that people may or may not need. So, we think about things like transportation and access to affordable medication."

While federal funding is a concern, North Dakota this year did approve $2 million in new funding for health centers.

Disclosure: The National Association of Community Health Centers contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, and Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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