A community success story

Born out of a group of community health centers established in Seattle in the late 1960s and the Civil Rights Movement, 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.

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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.

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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.

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The 1990s – Further expansion of community health centers

  • 1990: Holly Park Medical Clinic and Rainier Vista Medical Clinic consolidate.
  • 1991: Rainer Park Medical Clinic opens.
  • 1992: Community Health Plan of Washington created by Washington state’s community health centers
  • 1993: Chief Sealth High School-Based Health Center founded
  • 1995: Central Area Dental Clinic founded
  • 1998: Denny Middle School-Based Health Center opens

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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—now called Pike Place Market clinic
  • 2006: Georgetown Dental Clinic renovated.
  • 2007: Pike Place Market Clinic expanded.
  • 2008: Puget Sound Neighborhood Health Centers changes its name to Neighborcare Health and celebrates its 40th anniversary.

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  • 2010: The Affordable Care Act becomes law and paves the way for a record number of people in Washington State to gain health care insurance and access to care. In the next four years, Neighborcare Health increases the number of patients we care for by 44 percent.
  • 2011: New Rainier Beach Medical and 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 opens—a creative partnership with Neighborcare Health, Seattle-King County Public Health, and Valley Cities Behavioral Health, offering a new model for integrated health care delivery. Added more permanent supportive housing sites for our Housing Health and Outreach Team (HHOT) program, and started Community-based Nursing with Seattle Housing Authority.
  • 2016: Neighborcare Health at Vashon opens—our first location outside of the City of Seattle. Pacific Tower Dental clinic and the Dental Education Clinic open as a partnership between Neighborcare Health, Seattle Central College and Delta Dental of Washington to train dental professionals of the future. 
  • 2018: Neighborcare Health celebrates 50 years
  • 2017: Neighborcare Health at Vashon Island High School opens—our first school-based health center outside of the City of Seattle.
  • 2019: Neighborcare Health Dental at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia opens forming a partnership for a dental residency program. Neighborcare Health at Magnuson opens located in the basement of Mercy Magnuson Place low-income housing, bringing care to people where they live. Two new school-based health centers open at Robert Eagle Staff Middle School and Lincoln High School in Seattle. 
  • 2020: Vashon primary care medical and Central District dental clinics close.
  • 2023: St. Vincent de Paul-Aurora clinic closes. 

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