A clinic (or outpatient clinic or ambulatory care clinic) is a health care facility that is primarily devoted to the care of outpatients. Clinics can be privately operated or publicly managed and funded, and typically cover the primary health care needs of populations in local communities, in contrast to larger hospitals which offer specialized treatments and admit inpatients for overnight stays. Some clinics grow to be institutions as large as major hospitals, or become associated with a hospital or medical school, while retaining the name “clinic."
TYPES OF CLINICS
There are many different types of clinics providing outpatient services. Such clinics may be public (government funded) or private medical practices.
1. A free clinic provides free or low-cost health care for those without insurance.
2. A Retail Based Clinic is housed in supermarkets and similar retail outlets providing walk-in health care, which may be staffed by nurse practitioners.
3. A general out-patient clinic is a clinic offering a community general diagnoses or treatments without an overnight stay.
4. A polyclinic is a place where a wide range of health care services (including diagnostics) can be obtained without need of an overnight stay
5. A specialist clinic is a clinic providing advanced diagnostic or treatment services for specific diseases or parts of the body. This type of clinic contrasts with general out-patient clinics, which deal with general health conditions and disease categories.
6. A sexual health clinic deals with sexual health related problems, such as prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.
7. A fertility clinic aims to help women and couples to become pregnant.
8. An abortion clinic is a medical facility providing abortion and related medical services to women.
9. An ambulatory surgery clinic offers outpatient or same day surgery services, usually for surgical procedures less complicated than those requiring hospitalization.
The term community has two distinct meanings: 1) A group of interacting people, living in some proximity (i.e., in space, time, or relationship). Community usually refers to a social unit larger than a household that shares common values and has social cohesion. The term can also refer to the national community or international community, and, 2) in biology, a community is a group of interacting living organisms sharing a populated environment. A community is a group or society, helping each other
TYPES OF COMMUNITY
A number of ways to categorize types of community have been proposed; one such breakdown is:
1. Geographic communities: range from the local neighbourhood, suburb, village, town or city, region, nation or even the planet as a whole. These refer to communities of location.
2. Communities of culture: range from the local clique, sub-culture, ethnic group, religious, multicultural or pluralistic civilisation, or the global community cultures of today. They may be included as communities of need or identity, such as disabled persons, or frail aged people.
3. Community organizations: range from informal family or kinship networks, to more formal incorporated associations, political decision making structures, economic enterprises, or professional associations at a small, national or international scale.
Communities are nested; one community can contain another—for example a geographic community may contain a number of ethnic communities.
ROLES OF CLINICS TO THE COMMUNITY
- They must be located in or serve a high-needs community. These medically underserved areas are defined as having a high percentages of people living in poverty, areas with few primary care physicians, higher than average infant mortality rates and high percentages of the elderly.
- They must provide health care to all, regardless of ability to pay. All community health centres must commit to providing services for everyone, with fees based on a standard a sliding fee schedule that adjusts charges for care according to income.
- They must provide comprehensive health care services. All community health centres also must offer a broad range of “enabling” services to support the delivery of consistent, affordable health care.
- They must be governed by a community board. All community health centre boards must be comprised of a majority (at least 51 percent) of health centre patients who have the authority to oversee the operations of the centre. These powers include approving budgets, hiring and firing chief executives, and establishing general policies.
WHAT COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS PROVIDE
These health centres are required to provide a full range of health-related services, typically beyond what other health care providers such as hospitals or out-patient clinics provide. This means in addition to providing comprehensive primary health care services they also offer specialty care (such as orthopedic, cardiac, or podiatric care), dental and mental health services, as well as “supportive services” that can include nutrition education, translation services, care coordination and case management, transportation to and from health care sites, and outreach activities to help find eligible patients. This also means the care delivered is culturally appropriate and in languages that many in these communities speak.
Because of the influence of the community board and their commitment to comprehensive health care, community health centres tailor the services they provide to meet the specific needs of their communities. That’s why 89 percent of health centres provide interpretation/translational services on site, 79 percent provide weight reduction programs, 91 percent provide case management services, and 89 percent have services on site to help patients identify additional programs for which they might be eligible.
Studies consistently show that community health centres provide care that improves health outcomes of their patients. The patients of these centres are also more likely to identify a usual source of care, and report having better relationships with their health care providers. This focus on primary care and the provision of additional supportive services are among the reasons that care delivered by community health centres is less expensive and ultimately saves money to the broader health care system. Studies estimate that the provision of care in community health centres ultimately saves the U.S. health care system between $9.9 billion and $24 billion annually by eliminating unnecessary emergency room visits and other hospital-based care.