Experts see growing demand for health centers

A health campus in South Providence is growing.

Community health centers are growing in Rhode Island as more and more people are using them.

A health center campus is South Providence is growing.

One room will be a new dental clinic with nearly four times the number of chairs at its current office.

Dental care is considered to be a necessary part of overall health care. Demand is growing as more people get insurance under the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.

"The intent was always that community health centers would provide the backbone of primary care delivery under the act," said Jane Hayward, of the Rhode Island Health Center Association.

The radical idea of these community health centers is to try to combine all services in one location.

Primary care physicians are in one space, the new dental clinic in another, and Walgreens has built a one-of-a-kind pharmacy. It's smaller than most, and it doesn't sell cigarettes. But it serves the area.

With newly insured customers who normally didn't see a doctor or dentist until they were in extreme conditions, a comprehensive medical services locale can end up saving a lot of money.

"People will be receiving care in environments and in a system in a may that may be less expensive than some of the higher cost places they may have been going to in the past," Hayward said.

In which case there will be a push for even more community health centers.

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