Health Safety Net Providers

The health safety net helps Virginians who can’t get care.  But who are the state’s health safety net providers and what role does each play?

Community Health Centers (CHCs) are nonprofit organizations that provide primary health care, health education, and wellness outreach in medically underserved communities and for vulnerable populations. CHCs:

  • Are located in or serve high need communities
  • Deliver comprehensive primary health care, and supportive services
  • May offer dental, behavioral health, and inpatient care services.
  • Services available to all; fees adjusted on ability to pay
  • Provide care for both insured and uninsured patients
  • Receive federal grant funding if they are a designated Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).  “Look-alike” CHCs do not receive federal grants but do benefit from medical malpractice coverage and enhanced reimbursement rates
  • Are located in high-need areas statewide.  Consult this map of Virginia Community Health Centers.

Virginia’s free clinics and charitable clinics provide low-income, uninsured patients with free or low-cost health services.  Free Clinics:

  • Depend on community support and partnership with other health-related organizations.
  • Rely on services donated by volunteers, including doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners, nurses, dental hygienists, mental health professionals, and others
  • May be community-based or faith-based
  • Serve the uninsured
  • Vary greatly in terms of days and hours of operation and services provided
  • Do not receive federal FQHC funding
  • Are located in many Virginia localities – consult this map of Free Clinics in Virginia.

Health Department offices statewide offer varying degrees of primary care services, depending on the location.  Services range from immunizations to prenatal care to testing and/or treatment for STDs, and several VHD locations offer dental services for children and/or adults.  Consult this map of VDH offices statewide.

Hospitals provide significant health safety net care for patients requiring emergency services and have financial policies established to help uninsured and underinsured low-income patients.

Last Updated on October 8, 2020