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Nation celebrates 40 years of health centers

The nation is celebrating more than health centers this week, it is celebrating 40 years of their existence.

National Health Center Week is recognized Aug. 7-13. This year is also the 40th anniversary of the creation of the health centers program in the country.

To show support, the four CAO Family Medical Centers in the county are having open houses from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday to celebrate the big week.

"We are doing a needs assessment for the community to see if there are other services people think we should provide," said Nancy Lewis, director of health services at the Ironton CAO Family Medical Center. "We're wanting to let people be aware of our health center and services."

Mary Beth Blankenship, a nurse practitioner at the Ironton center, is excited about the added interaction with the community.

"People are welcome to come and visit, which I think is exciting," she said. "We are a community action center and we focus on the needs of the community. There's no way we can know what people need because we're in here and they're out there living."

The first medical center in the United States was started in 1965.

The Kemp Family Medical in Coal Grove was the first opened in the county in 1979.

The other four CAO Medical Centers are in Ironton, South Point and Chesapeake. The centers do outpatient primary care on short and long-term patients from quick care visits to long-term care.

Several hospital-owned facilities also operate in the county but as of Monday did not have any plans for the week.