Telling our Story

We’re always in search of creative methods Community Health Centers are trying to communicate with the external world about their mission. That’s how we stumbled across the wonderful videos by the Community Health Centers of Arkansas.  The Primary Care Association has launched a five part series that showcases how health centers are filled with real people solving real problems.  These videos are broken down by the acrostic “CARES”:

C- Community Focused
A- Accessible and Affordable
R- Real People Solving Real Problems
E- Economic Engine
S- Services for Everyone.

You can also grab a sneak peek of the first video below.

Unique Partnership Supports New Moms

Did you know NACHC has a podcast? It’s relatively new but it’s just another tool we are using to better communicate the value and innovation that Community Health Centers offer. Our latest podcast is about a unique program at Family First Health in York, Pennsylvania that provides support to new moms from pregnancy until the child is two years of age. What makes this program–the Nurse Family Partnership–special is the relationship it fosters between the nurses who participate and the new moms that are assigned to them.

Recently we were joined by Family First Health nurse Judy and program participant Suleyka. Suleyka and Judy were paired together in the Nurse-Family Partnership Program. Judy has been part of the program for about 12 years and has worked with 200 families. A young mother, Suleyka has formed a bond with Judy that has not only helped her care for her daughter but also encouraged her to complete high school and look to college. We’re happy that both Suleyka and Judy were able to join us on NACHC Health Center News Podcast to tell us a little more about this innovative program. Full disclosure, we had some user errors and so the sound in the beginning of the podcast isn’t as good as it could be, but it gets better–and of course we’ll continue to improve, too. 😀

Listen to the full interview.

Homeless for 24 Hours

GMStreetOur guest blogger today is George Miller, MSHA, FACHE, CEO of CommUnityCare Federally Qualified Health Centers in Austin, TX.  CommUnityCare, which served 4,000 homeless people last year, operates a clinic inside a homeless shelter and regularly dispatches a medical team to areas where homeless people are located to provide acute healthcare services. 

At CommUnityCare we take care of the poor and vulnerable populations including the homeless. To better understand their experiences and challenges, I lived on the streets for 24 hours. I am a man who is not often at a loss for words, but it is difficult to find the right words to convey all feelings of humility that arose from this experience.  However, I will try in the most humble way that I can, to share my experience.

My plan was to pan handle for money with nothing more than $9.00 in cash. I did pack a few things such as 2 bottles of water, juice and almonds in addition to my cell phone for safety reasons. The first three hours went well, I thought. I collected $6.00 and felt a sense of accomplishment. However, not everyone was as happy as me. One gentleman decided that I did not belong, screamed threats of bodily harm.  Moving up the road to get some distance did not reduce his aggression, so I decided that the safest thing for me to do was to leave the area.

The first three hours, I experienced a roller coaster of emotions. I felt threatened, even jealousy and anger when others took my pan-handling spot. Then another human emotion took over–blame. It must be them, the people not stopping to give money, they must be wrong, don’t they know who I am even though here I was on the streets, pretending to be homeless?  Then came shame and disappointment. I was supposed to get a glimpse of how homeless people live, and yet I was bringing the competitive work place emotions to my experience. How silly was I to think that, who am I trying to beat—who was keeping score? The reality is that no one wants to be there. Life has been a challenge for them, too. I changed my attitude.

My purpose was to smile and wave at every person who passed me and if they had their window down, wish them a “Happy Mother’s Day.”  Things began to turn around. I learned that human interaction, such as a smile, eye contact, a wave, and wishing someone a good day are 100 percent more valuable than money.

As the sun was going down, I knew I had to find a place to sleep. I walked the streets for a while and decided to go to a restaurant and reflect on my experiences. Around 11:00 pm, I went to a nearby church and slept in the jungle gym.  It was safe and off the beaten path. I heard every sound imaginable: people, any animals, sirens, etc.  While trying to sleep I thought of the challenges our community members face living in such a difficult and often hopeless circumstances.  I’m grateful and blessed that CommUnityCare can provide them with care.

I am also thankful and appreciative of people who were kind, who smiled, waved, gave money or offered to help. My faith in my fellow men and women remains strong. I am blessed to work with an amazing team of incredibly devoted and dedicated professionals who make a difference in the lives of the patients and families we are privileged to serve.

The New York Times Looks at Treating Opioid Addiction and Pain in West Virginia


Medical pillsWe have been writing about opioid addiction, an alarming trend that is gaining wide attention by the media, policymakers and lawmakers. And with good reason: every day in the U.S. over 40 people die from overdosing on prescription painkillers, and many more are becoming addicted, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Community Health Centers are among the organizations at “ground zero” for treating opioid abuse and addiction. We recently wrote about Petaluma Health Center in California, which received a $325,000 federal grant that will go toward to boosting staff at their substance abuse treatment center.

Health centers are using a variety of approaches to address pain and opioid addiction that we’re learning about. Today we read about Community Care of West Virginia, which has launched an approach that directly treats the chronic pain for which opioid pain killers are often prescribed. The health center hired an anesthesiologist to treat chronic pain, a move that caught the attention of New York Times reporter Abby Goodnough, in a feature article.

“I’m part F.B.I. investigator, part C.I.A. interrogator, part drill sergeant, part cheerleader,” Dr. Denzil Hawkinberry told the Times in a feature article.   Dr. Hawkinberry also has had personal experience with addiction as a former opioid addict.   The article describes how the health center’s  primary care doctors and nurse practitioners can now better focus on patients with other health problems, while Denzil Hawkinberry to make the hard decisions about who needs pain killers, using his own experiences as a “cautionary tale.”


Ten Health Centers Named 2015 Million Hearts Hypertension Control Champions

"MillionTen Community Health Centers have been named 2015 Million Hearts Hypertension Control Champions for working with patients to achieve hypertension control rates at or above 70 percent. Million Hearts is a national initiative to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017 by bringing together communities, and public and private organizations to fight heart disease and stroke [see our previous blog post about this initiative]. This year, they are recognizing 18 healthcare practices and systems across the country. The ten health centers who are receiving Million Hearts recognition include:

These health centers were singled out because they are achieving success and making a difference in their patients’ health.  Some of their practices include understanding their patient population, showing verifiable blood pressure control data, and effectively using health information technology to keep down blood pressure, using team-based care models and staying connected to patients through outreach and support.   Their work is important not only because it prevents hospitalization, but also saves lives.  Cardiovascular disease—including heart disease and stroke—is the leading cause of death in the United States. 

Congratulations to those who were recognized!