The Riverside Health Center opened in 1994 as a City of Houston funded clinic. The city lost the funding and had to close the clinic in 2002. Now the South Central Houston Community Health Center is reopening the clinic in a public-private partnership with the city. The health center and the clinic will operate from the same building with multiple funding streams supporting the services. City Councilmember Shelley Sekula-Gibbs says Houston has about ten Federally Qualified Health Centers but the city needs between 50 and 70 FQHCs.
"It's up to us to make that a reality that we can have those 50 to 70 federally qualified health centers in our area. Why? Because we have a million people who don't have health insurance, so we need these clinics."
The Riverside location will serve people both with and without insurance as well as those on Medicaid and CHIP.State Representative Garnet Coleman says there are 44 million uninsured people in the U.S. and too many of them are desperate for medical services.
"One point three million of those 44 million live in Harris County. In Texas, 1.4 million children have no health insurance. So it's very important that we understand that we should be for both creating more FQHCs, but also making sure that our people have the health coverage they need so they can go anywhere and get their care."
State Senator Rodney Ellis says in the African-American and Hispanic communities health care needs are more acute than anywhere else. He says the unfortunate thing is many of the health problems in the community are preventable.
"We could eat right. We could eat less. We could do more exercise. We could make sure that we exercise normal preventive measures. We have the highest incidence of HIV in the African-American communities throughout Texas in the black community. I mean a lot of these things, health care is not just having access to good health care, it's making good choices before you need the health care."
The clinic is situated near Riverside Hospital, just off of Elgin and close to Texas Southern University. Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.