Almost 50 Years of Caring for Our Most Vulnerable Neighbors

Born out of a group of community health centers established in Seattle in the late 1960s, Neighborcare Health is the ultimate community success story.

Our first clinics were an integral part of the changes in health care delivery sweeping the country, reflecting their founders’ remarkable vision, courage and boldness in creating something unprecedented. They were volunteer-based and existed on shoestring budgets. Operating in converted apartment units, fire stations and even converted taverns, staff in the early days were incredibly innovative in figuring out ways to deliver health care.

“We started from scratch, with nothing,” says Dr. Meredith Mathews, one of the founders. “We found some pretty disturbing reasons for why there were disparities in care.” For instance, a person living in the housing projects in West Seattle had to take at least two buses and spend more than two hours to get to the nearest source of care. As a result, people let their health languish.

So how did Neighborcare Health become the organization it is today?

The 1960s – Birth of Community Health Centers

  • 1967: Seattle’s first community health clinic, the Open Door Clinic, established.
  • 1968: Joe Whiting Dental Clinic, one of the first community clinics nationwide dedicated to dental access, founded.
  • 1969: High Point Medical Clinic and Holly Park Medical Clinic founded.

The 1970s – Seattle’s Community Health Centers Consolidate

  • 1971: Rainier Vista Medical Clinic founded.
  • 1972: Georgetown Dental Clinic founded.
  • 1973: Clinics became a consortium – first Southwest Medical and Dental Services of Seattle, and then later Neighborhood Health Centers of Seattle.
  • 1974: Southeast Dental Clinic founded.
  • 1978: Pike Market Medical Clinic founded.

The 1980s – Expanded Government Support of Community Health Centers

  • 1985: The Fremont Women’s Clinic and North End Medical Clinic merged to form 45th St. Clinic.
  • 1986: Clinics consolidate to become Puget Sound Neighborhood Health Centers.
  • 1987: Basic Health Plan established in Washington state to provide access to health insurance for low-income residents.
  • 1989: Federally Qualified Health Centers Act allows health centers to collect cost-based reimbursement for Medicaid services.

The 1990s – Further Expansion of Community Health Centers

  • 1990: Holly Park Medical Clinic and Rainier Vista Medical Clinic consolidate.
  • 1991: RainerPark Medical Clinic opens.
  • 1992: Community Health Plan of Washington created by Washington state’s community health centers; Sealth High School-Based Health Center founded; Central Area Dental Clinic founded; Denny Middle School-Based Health Center opens.

The 2000s – Community Health Centers Come of Age

  • 2000: Providence-Rainier Medical Clinic joins organization and becomes Rainier Beach Medical Clinic; Southeast Family Dental Clinic moves to new location; Greenwood Medical Clinic opens.
  • 2001: West Seattle High School-Based Health Center, Madison Middle School-Based Health Center, 45th St. Clinic, and Roosevelt High School-Based Health Center join organization.
  • 2003: New High Point Medical & Dental Clinic built to replace Joe Whiting Dental Clinic and High Point Medical Clinic.
  • 2005: Pike Market Medical Clinic joins organization.
  • 2006: Georgetown Dental Clinic renovated.
  • 2007: Pike Market Medical Clinic expanded.
  • 2008: Puget Sound Neighborhood Health Centers changes its name to Neighborcare Health and celebrates its 40th anniversary.
  • 2011:  New Rainier Beach Medical & Dental Clinic opens to replace Southeast Family Dental Clinic and Rainier Beach Medical Clinic; Mercer Middle School-Based Health Center opens; Sealth High School-Based Health Center and Denny Middle School-Based Health Centers move into new locations at newly-built combined middle and high school site.
  • 2014: Neighborcare Health in partnership with St. Vincent de Paul opens a new clinic that is attached to a thrift store, offering primary care services to north Seattle residents in a unique setting.
  • 2015: Meridian Center for Health is completed, a creative partnership with Neighborcare Health, Seattle-King County Public Health, and Valley Cities Mental Health Treatment, offering a new model for integrated health delivery .
  • 2015: Neighborcare Health continues to grow, opening several new clinics including Neighborcare Health at Meridian providing medical and dental services and Neighborcare Health at Boren providing primary care to adult homeless patients, the Housing Health Outreach Team is also expanded into three new  Seattle Housing Authority locations.   
  • 2016: Neighborcare Health at Vashon opens, the clinic on Vashon Island provides primary health care to those living on the island. Neighborcare Health serves 65,000 patients annually.   

Through Today, Neighborcare Health operates 28 medical, dental and school-based health clinics, and is the largest provider of primary health care to low-income and uninsured families and individuals in Seattle. Nationwide, there are now more than 1100 community health centers that provide essential primary health care to more than 15 million Americans