October 3, 2010

Nurse-managed centers are nurse-led, community-based programs and health centers that provide a range of services focusing on wellness, primary care, chronic disease management, and care coordination. There are over 250 centers across the country that provide needed care to underserved populations. These centers can help the nation to build up its infrastructure of community-based primary care services that will be in greater demand as the new health care reform law provides insurance coverage to the currently uninsured and underinsured.

This week has been designated as National Nurse Managed Health Clinic Week in an effort to honor the care they provide and bring needed attention to the potential of these centers to help transform health care in the U.S.  But they need to be funded to do so. The Affordable Care Act authorizes $50 million a year for this purpose, but the funds have to be appropriated by Congress–a huge challenge as the focus on fiscal austerity overtakes opportunities to invest in health care programs that can save lives and improve health while saving money (through reduced ER visits, hospitalizations, and nursing home care, in particular).

For more on these centers,  go to the web site of the National Nursing Centers Consortium at www.nncc.us.

Diana J. Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN, Rudin Professor of Nursing