Characteristics of CHCs

A community health centre (CHC) generally has the following characteristics:

  1. It is a non-profit or government-sponsored organization, governed by a locally elected board of directors or an advisory board comprised mostly of local residents and/or clients.

  2. It may be defined by a geographic area, or by a group or groups of people who have experienced barriers in accessing primary health services.

  3. It offers a range of services (including primary health, social, rehabilitation, and other non-institutional services) with an emphasis on prevention, health promotion, health education, and community development services.

  4. It works in partnership with organizations in other sectors, such as education, justice, recreation and economic development, to promote the health of the local community.

  5. It uses interdisciplinary teams to provide services.

  6. It remunerates its staff by salary and/or capitation.

A CHC is defined as an agency or a component of a broader health network that is governed:

  1. by a majority of locally representative directors on board of directors, or

    by a board of directors of the broader health network having an advisory committee made up of a majority of locally representative directors

  2. Serves an identifiable community where individuals and their families have a sense of local identity and/or collective empowerment and where they can participate in local decision-making

    an urban neighbourhood or cluster of neighbourhoods with a population ideally below 120,000

    a semi-urban area; a community or cluster of communities with a population ideally below 60,000

    a rural area; a community or cluster of communities with a population ideally below 25,000

    a community of individuals with common characteristics: youth, seniors, women, etc., from a neighbourhood or group of neighbourhoods

  3. Provides mainly primary health care services with health promotion and community development as integral parts.

  4. Has responsibility for the identifiable community to maintain or ameliorate the health and well-being of its population, thereby working in partnership with other agencies providing health services as well as other sectors (social services, justice, education, etc).

  5. Uses inter-disciplinary teams of providers from various health and social disciplines, as well as volunteers.

  6. Remunerates the large majority of human resources in all disciplines by similar funding arrangements (e.g. salary and sessional fees or capitation) rather than fee-for-service.

  7. The CHC is the first point of contact and principally offers a range of primary health, social, rehabilitation and other non-institutional services where the accent is on prevention, health promotion, health education, and community development provided in the community. It works in partnership with organizations in other sectors, such as education, justice, recreation and economic development, in developing a healthy local community.