Community Health Centers

What is a Community Health Center?

A community health center is a not-for-profit, community-based organization that provides primary care (not emergency or hospital) care to those who live in areas of the state where there is a shortage of medical care.  Because they receive federal funding, community health centers have paid medical and support staff and are open regular business hours.

How can a Community Health Center help?

Community Health Centers (CHCs) provide health care, prescription medications and wellness outreach to Virginians across the state.  All CHCs provide immunizations, screenings and preventive care, x-ray and lab services, case management and physician care.

In addition, more than 25 Virginia CHC sites also offer dental services and some provide mental health services, OB/GYN or in-house pharmacy services.

How do I know if I am eligible to receive care at a Community Health Center?

Anyone in a community is eligible to seek care at a Community Health Center.  CHCs do not accept or deny patients based on ability to pay, insurance status, age, sex, religion or race.  One challenge has been that the economic downturn as greatly increased demand for CHC services — you may have to wait, or be on a wait-list, to get care.

Is there a Community Health Center near me?

Click on your county on this map of Virginia’s Community Health Centers to find the closest CHC to you.  The map shows the main location of each community health center; contact your area CHC to see if there is a satellite office closer to your home (Central Virginia Health Services, for example, has more than one dozen locations).

All CHCs are located in areas of the state that are “medically underserved” — areas where there are too few doctors, nurse practitioners, dentists and other primary care providers to meet the needs of all the people in the community.

When are Community Health Centers open?

Community Health Centers are generally open during regular business hours.  Some may have longer hours on nights or weekends.  Visit www.vacommunityhealth.org, the Virginia Community Healthcare Association’s website, to find the hours of operation for the Community Health Center nearest you.

How much does care cost at a CHC?

The cost of care at a Community Health Center depends on your income and whether you have insurance.  The centers’ sliding scale fees allow even those who are unemployed and uninsured to get care.

How can I learn more?

Contact the Community Health Center in your area or visit www.vacommunityhealth.org, the Virginia Community Healthcare Association’s website.