In celebration of our 50th anniversary, we are featuring an exploration of the history of Community Health Centers and significant achievements of Neighborcare Health.

Neighborcare Health is celebrating 50 years of providing a health care home to our most vulnerable neighbors. What started 50 years ago as a cluster of volunteer-run clinics operated in converted apartments, taverns and fire stations has now become the largest provider of primary health care to low-income and uninsured families and individuals in Seattle. Over the last 50 years we’ve seen many changes to health care, from the first chicken pox vaccine to the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

We invite you to celebrate with us as we reflect on some of the most significant moments in Neighborcare's history. From a small group of volunteers, to an organization employing more than 700 individuals at 28 medical, dental and school-based clinics, Neighborcare Health continues to look for new ways to meet the growing needs of our community.

Help us celebrate our 50th anniversary by sending your Neighborcare Health story to We’d love to hear from you!


In the 1960s, Seattle started to expand and take the shape of a major city. It was in this decade that the  Space Needle joined our skyline, the first cars drove down the Seattle Freeway (later renamed I-5), and the at the end of the decade, the city’s first community health centers popped up in local neighborhoods.

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As the ’70s began, the momentum created by the protests and advocacy in the ’60s continued to move the needle forward on national and local social justice issues, including the use of public spaces and land.

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As the economy struggled in the 1980s, community health centers, including Neighborcare Health, continued to provide outstanding and innovative care to low-income and marginalized patients.

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In 1990, state officials formed the Washington State Health Care Commission to propose health care reforms aimed at providing universal insurance coverage for all residents.

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By the year 2000, community health centers had grown to serve 10 million people in communities across the United States. This was due in part to the Health Center Expansion Initiative, proposed by President George W. Bush.

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On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. Since then, the ACA has given millions of Americans access to affordable health insurance; between 2010 and 2018, the uninsured rate in the U.S. has dropped from 16 percent (48.6 million people) to an all-time low of 8.8 percent (28.3 million people).

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