Health Center Leaders Honored at Agricultural Worker Health Conference

Stephen Schilling, CEO, Clinica Sierra Vista

Mark Koday, DDS, Chief Dental Officer, Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic













The NACHC 2017 Agricultural Worker Health Conference is underway in Savannah, GA.  Migrant heath centers currently serve nearly 1 million of the estimated 4 million agricultural workers in the country, and they are on course to boost up that number to 2 million patients served by year 2020. Today the focus of the conference was on the health center leaders who have dedicated their lives to serving a vulnerable and disenfranchised population. Mark Koday, DDS, Chief Dental Officer at Yakima Valley Farmworkers Clinic  (YVFWC) based in Toppenish, WA, and Stephen Schilling, Chief Executive Officer of Clinica Sierra Vista in Bakersfield, CA, were presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards in Migrant Health.

Both awardees are veterans of the frontlines of community health.  Dr. Koday joined Yakima Valley as part of the National Health Service Corps. Under his leadership YVFWC has ushered in 10 dental clinics across Washington and Oregon, not to mention two residency programs for general and pediatric dentistry and four mobile dental units.  Yet, Dr. Koday’s approach is to look at the whole health of the patient. “Dentists tend to see teeth a lot,” he said. “Sometimes we have to take a different look and see the patient and where they are coming from. Things make a lot of sense when you do that.”

Steve Schilling has spent nearly 45 years at the helm of Clinica Sierra Vista, one of the largest community health center networks in California — and the fourth largest community health system in the nation. With a staff of more than 1200, it provides an expansive array of vitally needed health and social services. Its programs reaches more than 200,000 patients at 75 sites, covering a three county-wide region. Clinica’s phenomenal growth from a one-time small, storefront health clinic is testament to the leadership and vision of Schilling. “To find and nurture a professional home amidst a family of caring friends in a challenging job — it doesn’t get any better than that,” Schilling once said. “I remain committed to the goals of community based health care; and ultimately, to the outcome of universal access and human justice.”

Other health center leaders honored with the 2017 Migrant Health Awards are:  Claudia Gonzalez, Board Member, Community Health Of South Florida, Inc; and Alicia Gonzales, Director of Consulting and Professional Development Services for the National Center for Farmworker Health.

The Maine Migrant Health Program, which was established 26 years ago in 1991, was also honored with the 2017 Outstanding Migrant Health Center Award.  The highly successful program utilizes mobile medical units to reach out to agricultural workers in fields, canneries and nurseries in the entire state.



African American Death Rate Drops 25 Percent

Courtesy: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The death rate for African Americans declined from 1999 to 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s good news, but African Americans are still more likely than white Americans to die at a young age. Although African Americans are living longer, their life expectancy is still four years less than that of whites. The report found that African Americans in their 20s, 30s and 40s are more likely to live with or die from conditions that typically occur at older ages in whites, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. African Americans aged 35-64 are 50 percent more likely than whites to have high blood pressure.

Social and economic conditions are large determining factors that contribute to the gap in health differences between African Americans and whites.  Access to preventive care is critical — and that’s where Community Health Centers come in. Twenty-three percent of health center patients are African American, according to NACHC. Because they get their care at a health center, these patients are more likely to receive timely access to preventive services such as pap smears, colorectal cancer screenings and mammograms. Health center patients also have lower rates of low birth weight than low income and racial/ethnic minority patients nationally. But it’s also not just about the type of care all health center patients receive, it’s about the quality of care.  Health center patients overall are more satisfied by the quality of their care.

The CDC report did not specifically cite the reason the gap has narrowed, but a CDC epidemiologist interviewed by NPR attributed the drop to African Americans benefiting more from decreases in the number of deaths from a variety of diseases, including AIDS and tobacco-related illnesses.



Brighter Smiles in South Florida Thanks to a New Mobile Dental Van

Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) unveiled its new state-of-the-art mobile dental unit by cutting the ribbon on the trailer in front of its corporate headquarters — and it is a beauty!

The new dental trailer features three operatories that will allow dental teams to do cleanings and other basic preventative services along with restoration and minor oral surgeries. It also has digital x-rays, the latest dental equipment, Wi-Fi and an educational TV system.

“I’m excited about this new opportunity that we have for this community,” said Brodes H. Hartley Jr., President and CEO of CHI.  “As you know, we always try to improve on the services that we provide to the community and take the services to the people. We are not just waiting for people to come to us.”

The mobile dental unit will bring CHI’s dental teams and brighter smiles into neighborhoods and schools throughout South Florida.

“This is the next phase of oral health care for CHI,” said Dr. Robert Johnson, Dental Director at CHI. “We can get out and operate after a hurricane comes with expanded outreach to the community. It has a generator that can be self-sufficient.”

Dr. Johnson said CHI purchased the dental trailer thanks to a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for $700,000 over two years. The investment is a bonus to the services that CHI already provides residents in addition to excellent primary care — urgent care, walk-in services, low-cost pharmacies, radiology, vision, dental, behavioral health, laboratory, insurance enrollment, and free transportation to ensure patients have access to care.







Health Centers Have a Secret Weapon for Addressing Minority Health: Consumer Boards

National Minority Health Month 2017  is behind us but we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out one particularly unique way Community Health Centers address minority health — through consumer-driven boards.

By law, health center boards must be comprised of at least 51% consumers.  These are people who live in the community served by the health center, are patients, and represent the individuals who are served by the health center in terms of demographics such as race, ethnicity, and gender.

Board members keep health centers accountable to the patients they serve, and are uniquely positioned to address community needs. More than half – 62% — of Community Health Center patients identify as a racial/ethnic minority, so it makes sense that health centers and their boards do an excellent job addressing issues impacting these populations.

Why does this model work? Because it ensures that resources are efficiently directed to population health needs.  There is no one-size fits all approach in community health, and that’s why every health center looks different, depending on where one visits.  A case in point is the trailblazing efforts of the Northeast Valley Health Corporation’s new program.  The health center deploys Ambulatory Care Pharmacists to work directly with patients with acute hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol (minorities are more likely than whites to have most of the major chronic diseases).   The program is so successful the local news featured an article about it.

Do you have a story about your health center’s consumer board? Tell us and we’ll write about it on this blog.


Under One Roof a One Stop Shop for HIV/AIDS Patients in Nashville

Good ideas are happening in Nashville at My House. By My House we mean a collaboration project between Neighborhood Health, Nashville CARES and Street Works. Neighborhood Health is a Community Health Center that not only has provided excellent care for over 40 years, but they are also always trying to figure out better ways to deliver care. My House came about after the three organizations realized that it was better to provide a one‐stop-shop for those with HIV/AIDS or at risk and their family and friends, rather than have the needs met at three separate locations. The project’s goal is to reduce new HIV infections, increase access to care and optimize health outcomes for people living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS throughout Middle Tennessee. A grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helped bring the project to fruition. The full range of services will include education, testing, prevention, navigation, counseling, and STI/Hepatitis/TB testing and screenings, medical treatment and essential support services.

“People in Nashville and middle Tennessee who are at risk for HIV have had few alternatives for regular care and prevention counseling,” said Mary Bufwack, Chief Executive Officer of Neighborhood Health. “My House will be an invaluable resource to those at risk for HIV and those living with HIV, providing care and support in a culturally informed multi-agency client-friendly setting.”

Doors at My House are scheduled to open this month.

You can read more about the project in the local newspaper, the Tennessean.