Atlanta charity health center awarded for care quality, pandemic response

Leaders say it shows that quality is not sacrificed when accessing health care through charitable care providers.
Dr. Richard Blalock conducted a medical check-up for Omar Jobe at The Family Health Center located in West End on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023. Recently, The Family Health Centers of Georgia received a quality award from HRSA, making it the only health center in Atlanta to receive this recognition.
Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Dr. Richard Blalock conducted a medical check-up for Omar Jobe at The Family Health Center located in West End on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023. Recently, The Family Health Centers of Georgia received a quality award from HRSA, making it the only health center in Atlanta to receive this recognition. Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

A charitable health care clinic in the heart of Atlanta has been federally recognized for the quality of their services and their pandemic response.

Headquartered in West End with several locations elsewhere, The Family Health Centers of Georgia was recently awarded a health center quality award by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the only federally qualified health center in Atlanta to receive the distinction. Along with the bronze Health Center Quality Leader award, the center received the Covid-19 Public Health Champion award.

Community health centers have a variety of quality measures that they set out to achieve related to preventative medicine, including how they control chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension, and also how well they care for pregnant women and children. With the recognition, the center’s leaders say it shows that quality care is not sacrificed when accessing health care through charitable care providers.

“To be recognized as a quality leader on all of those fronts is an amazing feat and a testament to what it is that our providers do,” Dr. Keila Brown, vice president of The Family Health Centers of Georgia, said. “It is the whole reason that we are here, to help serve the underserved community.”

The Family Health Centers of Georgia building in West End shown in November 2023.
Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

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Credit: Miguel Martinez

Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are health care organizations that accept all patients regardless of insurance status. In the United States there are 1,403 funded by the Health Resources Service Administration, with 34 here in Georgia.

At the West End Clinic, services include adult and family medicine, behavioral health, vision, pharmacy, laboratory work, pediatrics, women’s health and more. They offer these health services to patients on a sliding fee scale basis, based on their ability to pay.

Richard Yusuf, a patient at the health center, said that his provider has helped him keep his high blood pressure at bay.

“The staff of the clinic listens and responds to me. They take care of me,” Yusuf said. “I enjoy my time with them.”

In addition to their headquarters in West End, the organization has satellite locations located in Cobb County, Rome, McDonough and schools throughout the metro area, that serve a range of patient populations.

In 2022, the organization saw nearly 17,000 patients, and 98% of their patients were classified as racial or ethnic minorities. Patients under the age of 18 accounted for 62% of all patients that same year.

M.G. Bledsoe, director of marketing and outreach for The Family Health Centers of Georgia, likes to think of the health center as a “one-stop shop”.

“You can actually get quality health care regardless of your ability to pay for it and whether or not you have health insurance,” she said. “I think that speaks volumes now.”

 Dr. Richard Blalock conducted a medical check-up for Omar Jobe at The Family Health Center located in West End on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023. Recently, The Family Health Centers of Georgia received a quality award from HRSA, making it the only health center in Atlanta to receive this recognition.
Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

icon to expand image

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Dr. Richard Blalock, a long-time resident of the Mechanicsville neighborhood, specializes in internal medicine and pediatrics at the West End. He says his experience as a native of Atlanta helps him better serve his patients.

Blalock said that he has encountered patients who have not seen a doctor in over 30 years. Through programs that the clinic has created, such as free Uber rides to and from visits and men’s health initiatives, he says improvements have been made to lower barriers to accessing care.

“We found that a lot of people don’t show up to the doctor for very simple things that we take for granted,” Blalock said. “Which is one of the things that we really try to focus on here.”

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