We’re Getting Ready for the CHI in Chicago!

August-28-30Chicago-ILWe’re getting ready for the NACHC Community Health Institute (CHI) and EXPO which kicks off in Chicago from August 28th to the 30th. The conference draws thousands of health center clinicians, board members, executives from across the country to gather under one roof [read media advisory]. Speakers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are scheduled to speak. There are nearly 140 exhibiters at the EXPO exhibition, not to mention the NACHC games in the exhibit hall. But the real meat and potatoes of the conference will be addressing the issues that health centers are confronting in their daily work.  As a recent article about the CHI in Modern Healthcare Magazine noted, attracting and utilizing the primary care workforce will be a central theme.  Speakers such as Dr. Karen DeSalvo, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Health for the Department of Health and Human Services will discuss how innovative care models such as patient-centered medical homes will drive which types of healthcare professionals are most needed to serve the clinics’ low-income patients.

In addition to exciting speakers during the CHI, there will also be a host of education sessions, including ones that focus on emerging public health issues that have made headlines, such as the Zika virus and the nationwide epidemic on opioid addiction. Health centers are among the responders to these crises, which makes these cutting edge sessions all the more vital. The recent work health centers are doing in addressing addiction is an issue NACHC President and CEO Tom Van Coverden wrote about in this op-ed, also published in Modern Healthcare. There is also a session focused on the prevention, screening, care and prevention of the Zika virus. We will be live streaming that session on Facebook starting at 8:30 am on Tuesday, August 20th.

Stay tuned to this blog for more developments and features as we report from the NACHC CHI. Follow @NACHC and #2016CHI.

An Update on Louisiana

bestfloodThe deadly floodwaters in Louisiana are receding but more rain is expected this week. There have been 13 reported deaths from high waters and 40,000 homes have been damaged by floodwaters, according to news reports.  Thousands of people are currently displaced and living in shelters. The federal government declared a major disaster in the state, and 30 parishes are to be declared flood disasters. NACHC has reached out to our friends at the Louisiana Primary Care Association (LPCA) and learned that while their Baton Rouge building is unaffected, dozens of employees have been impacted, including three people whose homes remain underwater. LPCA is still trying to assess the damage to the FQHC community, but estimates that, based on reports from the field, about 100 employees from health centers in the area have lost their homes.  LPCA is working with a emergency preparedness consultant. Any inquiries or requests to help should be directed to Jasmine Watts.  NACHC’s partner Direct Relief is working to fulfill urgent requests of medicines and medical supplies from health centers and providers throughout central Louisiana.  Here’s what we know so far:

Among the health centers affected is RKM Primary Care, a FQHC under Primary Care Providers for a Healthy Feliciana, Inc. (PCPFHF), which serves over 20,000 patients at five clinic locations. Three of these sites were affected by flooding and were closed. The health center did manage to open a makeshift clinic outside of their Livingston site, which was damaged by flood water. In Clinton, only two of their providers were able to get to the clinic on Monday to treat patients. Direct Relief has sent the health center their first shipment of supplies, which includ Medical Outreach Backpacks, insulin and a Hurricane Prep Pack.

Even if health centers in area avoided flood damage their service areas have been affected. Among them is Eunice Community Health Center, which reports that 200 people have been displaced and are living in shelters. The health center is currently planning their outreach strategies in addition to treating patients at the clinic. They report that seventy percent of their patients are diabetic and are in need of supplies.

There is also St. Gabriel Community Health Center  which operates sites in St. Gabriel and another in Monticello. Both of these sites are operating with minimum staff but have extended their hours. In the immediate area there are 800 homes damaged and about 8,000 people impacted. There is a Red Cross shelter set up across the street in St. Gabriel, where they are performing outreach.

CareSouth is a health center located in Baton Rouge.  The health center did not experience any damage but have since depleted medical supplies while responding to community needs and have requested a replenishment from Direct Relief.

Special thanks to Direct Relief for keeping us updated and for their immediate response to help the FQHC community.  We will keep you updated.

#NHCW16 Is Almost Over… But What a Week It has Been!

There were so many things going on during National Health Center Week 2016  our heads are spinning!  Over 75 Members of Congress toured a health center in their Congressional district, there have been thousands of different events going on — health fairs, breakfasts, picnics,  grand openings of new sites, and much more.  There was even this marriage proposal  that took place during what was supposed to be a fire drill at Ellen Jones Community Dental Center  (a site of Harbor Health Services) in Cape Cod, MA.    Though it may be hard to top a marriage proposal, there are other highlights during #NHCW16 worth noting:

Stay tuned to this blog and we’ll continue to update you on NHCW highlights!

 

National Health Center Week Is Happening Right Now

Tuesday Public HousingHang on to your hats because National Health Center Week 2016 (NHCW) is off and running.  There are nearly 1,400 events scheduled across the country, including visits by 75 Members of Congress to health centers in their districts.  The host of events kicked off earlier this week with a NACHC Teleforum with health center advocates, featuring remarks by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and Acting Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration Jim Macrae [see NACHC press release].

Even more exciting is that some elected officials are not just touring health centers and talking about them, they are also writing about them. Check out this op-ed published by U.S. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota.  Support for National Health Center Week reaches all the way up to the White House with a Presidential Proclamation from President Barack Obama.   NACHC President and CEO Tom Van Coverden also weighed in about NHCW with this post on The Pulse blog by the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County.

Each day of NHCW is devoted to a special focus of health centers.  Today, we are recognizing the health centers that provide health care to 1.5 million public housing patients. To learn more visit the CFAHC Blog to hear from Kristine Gonnella, Director of Technical Assistance and Consultation at Community Health Partners for Sustainability. You can also check out her podcast and blog post discussing how Public Housing Health Centers are innovators in community health – how they work to provide high-quality, accessible health care for residents of public housing communities.

Stay tuned to this blog for more news about #NHCW16!

Podcast: Zika Virus and Texas

Florida is in the headlines this week after an outbreak of the Zika virus.  The Florida Department of Health has identified an area in one neighborhood of Miami where Zika is being spread by mosquitoes  At least 14 people have been infected.  This is the first locally transmitted Zika outbreak in the continental United States. A travel advisory has now been issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning pregnant women from visiting an area with ongoing Zika virus transmission in northern Miami, Florida. Florida and Texas (and some parts of Hawaii) are some of the hotspot states where residents are vulnerable to Zika because the Aedes species mosquito has been known to dwell in these states. Yet, resources to prepare for a Zika outbreak are tight. Congress adjourned for the summer without an agreement to fund a response to Zika [see Health Centers on the Hill post]. States are now going it alone in preparing a response to Zika.

That is what brings us to Texas.  Earlier, we wrote on this blog about efforts in the Lone Star state to prepare for Zika locally acquired Zika. The Texas Association of Community Health Centers (TACHC) and a coalition of state and national organizations have sounded the alarm to health officials that vulnerable populations are especially at risk for Zika because they typically lack access to health services and/or insurance coverage, live in poor housing conditions (such as no air conditioning or window screens and lack resources to purchase protective items, such as mosquito repellant.  Recently, we spoke with two health centers in the Houston area who are on the frontlines of Zika preparedness: Dr. Kavon Young, Medical Director of El Centro De Corazon, and Kevin Nix, Senior Director of Communications at Legacy Community Health. Listen below.