Over the past three years the Health Center Advocacy Network has experienced unprecedented growth to encompass 100,000 individuals and counting. Thanks to this growing number of Advocates like you, who have not only joined the Campaign for America’s Health Centers, but have repeatedly raised your voice on behalf of Health Centers and their patients,  the power and effectiveness of our network has grown as well.

The effectiveness of our advocacy has been demonstrated time and time again with many of you helping lead the charge online to increase support for the Health Center Program. Online advocacy engagement has also expanded the ability to serve more patients and to stave off regular challenges and threats. Much the same way patients are at the heart of each Health Center, you, our advocates, are at the heart of our network.

Now, as we face even more serious threats and even greater opportunities, we have to adapt and transform our advocacy efforts to meet them. Our goal will remain unchanged; continuing to encourage even more growth while effectively supporting and accommodating the needs of all of our Advocates. To make sure that we can continue to be leaders on behalf of America’s Health Centers, we will be transforming the Campaign for America’s Health Centers into a new – and we believe more effective – identity known as the Health Center Advocacy Network.

Key Information, Dates & Actions:

  • While the Campaign for America’s Health Centers umbrella has helped us grow to more than 100,000 advocates, we have come to a point where our efforts are larger than just a single campaign.
  • To be able to meet the unprecedented challenges and opportunities in today’s environment, we need to be easily recognized and able to respond in the online world where our power matters.
  • The new Health Center Advocacy Network website provides seamless social media sharing capabilities as well as updated advocacy tools. Most importantly, our new website will make it easier than ever for Advocates to take action – from any device with the click of a button.
  • On February 20, we will formally transition to the new website. We will also hold a launch webinar on March 15 at 3PM ET. You can register for the webinar here. If you are attending the Policy & Issues Forum there will also be an opportunity to view, learn about and experience during the conference.
  • ACTION ITEM: Show your support for the new Health Center Advocacy Network by adding our web badge to your website or social media page.

We are excited to unveil this new and updated Health Center Advocacy Network – the action center and heart of our advocacy program. As part of the launch later this month we encourage advocates to visit our new state of the art website, join us in sharing and driving recognition of this updated appearance and identity across social media channels, and take advantage of enhanced opportunities to engage and ADVOCATE for America’s Health Centers and the patients they serve.

Cultural Competency 101

cultural-competencyOur guest blogger today is Gianna Ramos, a GE-National Medical Fellowship Primary Care Leadership Program (PCLP) Scholar. As a PCLP Scholar, Ramos had the opportunity to examine the challenges and rewards of working in primary care in Community Health Center. While working at Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center in Nashville, TN, Ramos focused on the needs of adolescent patients. 

Cultural competency has been an increasingly popular topic in medical school because of the diverse society in which we live and work.  At the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, my current institution, there have been lectures and workshops on how to adequately address the cultural needs of patients. Certainly more education is needed, but the hands-on experience I had outside of my home institution was perhaps the most meaningful lesson in cultural competency.   I traveled to Nashville, TN, during the summer in between my first and second year of medical school, a long way from Los Angeles, and worked in a Community Health Center —  the Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center (MWCHC), as part of the General Electric and National Medical Fellowships Primary Care Leadership Program (PCLP).

Immersion, in my own experience, is the best way to develop the skills needed to become a culturally competent physician, and this program helped me do just that. Every day MWCHC serves mostly low income African American and Hispanic patients.  I worked in the pediatric department seeing patients that came in for anything from a well baby check up to STI screening. I worked alongside nurse practitioner students, and other medical students, to gain clinical experience in the exam room, listening to heart and lung sounds, checking for developmental milestones, talking about concussions and sports safety, and addressing childhood obesity. Previously, I had seen many diverse patients in my limited experience as a medical student in the LA County hospital system, but this was not the same.  Medicine in the south, and medicine in the west are surprisingly much different in practice.  For instance, I quickly learned that many parents stayed in the exam room throughout the entirety of their son or daughter’s visit, while in Los Angeles, we often ask parents of patients over the age of 13 to leave for a portion of the interview. In Nashville, patients were more respectful, but also engaged less in shared decision making, and took my word as authority without much questioning. It was these experiences that opened my eyes to the differences in how medicine is practiced and how necessary it is to always accommodate the culture of the patients.

I was able to conduct a small project as part of PCLP, which allowed me to gain a better understanding of what adolescent patients wanted from their healthcare provider, by attending a community health fair and asking attendees to participate in a survey. The health fair was a lot different than the ones I had volunteered at in Los Angeles. There was live reggae and rap music performed by community members at the health fair, something I had not seen before. This laid-back environment with a lot of community participation made it easy to survey the community at the health fair and get valuable feedback from the adolescent population. Ultimately, I was able to use the feedback to inform providers about services that adolescents wanted more of, like sex education, and in what ways the care they received was excellent.

PCLP was a great opportunity to not only immerse myself in another community, but to learn how, even within the United States, we can have such diverse patients and providers, and how important it is to be aware of our cultural differences and work toward a better mutual understanding and acceptance of one another.

Going Green at NACHC

NACHC trainings are going greenIn an effort to reduce waste and save trees,  NACHC is implementing a going green initiative that will slowly phase in technology for accessing training materials. The first phase of the green initiative was implemented over the summer at NACHC training courses. Hard copies of presentation slides were not provided on-site at NACHC trainings and instead attendees were encouraged to download then from the MyNACHC Learning Center.

With the approaching Financial, Operations, Management/ IT (FOM/IT) Conference in November we thought we’d answer some questions about the initiative:

How to access course materials on MyNACHC (3)Below are some Q&As to help our training participants with this transition.

Q: How do I access my course materials?

A: You will be sent a “Welcome” email with instructions on how to access the course materials in MyNACHC approximately one week to 10 days prior to the course.

Course worksheets, toolkits, case studies, and all other materials used on-site during the trainings will still be provided in hard copy.

Q: What do I need to bring to the course with me?

A: Any worksheets, toolkits, or case studies that will be used during the course will be provided on-site in a course binder.  If you would like copies of the presentations (PowerPoint slides), or any of the supplemental reference materials you must download them from MyNACHC yourself.  You can then either bring them electronically on your personal devices, or have them printed for you to bring with you.

Q: Do I have to print the course materials?

A: This is a personal decision.  If you would like to have the PowerPoint slides in front of you for note taking, then we advise that you download and/or print them to bring with you, otherwise there is no requirement that you need to print them.  You will have access to the materials electronically for at least one year after the course.

Q: How long will I have access to the course materials electronically in MyNACHC?

A: Participants will be able to access all course materials for up to one year after taking the course. 

Have more questions? Need more information? Let us know in the comments section.


D.C. Outreach and Enrollment Event Puts the Focus on Covering Kids

Dr. Lekeisha Terrell, Medical Director of Unity’s School-Based Health Centers, Secretary Sylvia Burwell, and Vincent A. Keane, President and CEO of Unity Health Care

Dr. Lekeisha Terrell, Medical Director of Unity’s School-Based Health Centers, Secretary Sylvia Burwell, and Vincent A. Keane, President and CEO of Unity Health Care

District of Columbia Community Health Center Unity Health Care recently received a visit from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Education Secretary John B. King, Jr.  The two visited Unity’s school based health center on the historic Cardozo Education Campus, which is a combined middle and high school in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, a diverse enclave of the nation’s capital.   The visit and roundtable discussion, featuring participants from the Children’s Defense Fund and the AASA, Schools Superintendents Association, was part of an effort to encourage schools and districts to enroll students in health care coverage through school registration.

“As a nation, there is more we can do to help children access the care they need to stay healthy and to be ready to learn. Enrolling or linking students to coverage through school registration processes is just one of many ways that education and health stakeholders and agencies can partner to ensure all students are healthy and ready to learn,” said Sec. John B. King in a press release.

Children who have health coverage are more likely to graduate from both high school and college than those who are uninsured, according to the Department of Education.  Despite progress in efforts to expand coverage for children, about one in 17 under the age of 18 remain uninsured. There are also about 2.8 million uninsured children who are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

“Children do better in the classroom when they are healthy and ready for learning. As we gear up for Open Enrollment’s start on Nov. 1, we want to make sure more kids have access to quality care that will keep them healthy, active, and prepared to learn through the year,” said Secretary Burwell.

Unity is just one of many health centers across the nation that work hard to connect people with the information and services they need to get covered. Because of fluctuations in income and employment that impact health coverage—known as churn—health centers are proactive about keeping adults and children covered throughout the year, not just during open enrollment. In fact, health centers have been integral to national enrollment effort and have assisted over 15 million people with enrollment since July 2013.

If you’re a health center looking for tools to help you get children covered check out the two resources below.

Back-To-School Toolkit 

Insure All Children


Grants Will Boost Outreach and Enrollment to Uninsured

The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) has awarded nine short-term grants to support and promote innovative outreach and enrollment (O&E) efforts to uninsured populations.

The Reaching Deep to Enroll and Retain Communities grants are supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and were awarded to primary care associations (PCA), health center controlled networks (HCCN) and Community Health Centers.  NACHC and RWJF have forged a partnership aimed at boosting  O&E support to health centers and creating a coordinated support network for over 60 PCA O&E staff.  O&E activities include webinars and trainings to over 1,600 health center staff so that more uninsured and eligible patients can be connected to coverage. NACHC has even created an O&E track at the annual Community Health Institute and EXPO that offers a range of information and tools for health center staff.

The Reaching Deep to Enroll and Retain Communities Awards ranged from $10,000 to $15,000 and will cover projects through then end of the year. Specifically, NACHC looked for organizations with O&E projects that would impact hard-to-reach populations, demonstrate workforce innovation, use social determinants of health data and/or provide training and technical assistance. NACHC hopes these projects will help identify best practices so that health centers can continue to learn from one another.

Congratulations to the grant recipients:

  • Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS)
    • BRCHS’ project will implement a screening/tracking software and tablets for patient navigators to screen all new patients for coverage eligibility and other local assistance.
  • Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County (CCALAC)
    • CCALAC plans to use their award to provide outreach, enrollment and retention staff with resources, training and technical assistance on recent policy changes, including the expansion of Medicaid coverage to all California children regardless of immigration status and the transition of newly-qualified immigrants from Medicaid to Covered California health plans.
  • Cornell Scott-Hill Health Corporation (CSHHC)
    • CSHHC is using the award to enroll hard-to-reach, low-income minorities and assist them with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and wellness screenings.
  • Near North Health Service Corporation (NNHSC)
    • Near North’s project—From Coverage to Care—will focus on improving access to health care for 250 homeless adults through daily enrollment assistance at local homeless shelters, offering transportation to NNHSC health centers for health care, and also working to improve health literacy among their patients.
  • Colorado Community Health Network (CCHN)
    • CCHN will work through their Covering Kids and Families project to develop a website to serve as a resource and forum for enrollment assisters and other community-based organizations on comprehensive training on Colorado’s health insurance affordability programs.
  • Florida Association of Community Health Centers (FACHC)
    • FACHC plans to hold three regional conferences to improve the capacity of Florida Enrollment Assisters, including sessions on hard-to-reach populations, and best practices.
  • Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers (MassLeague)
    • MassLeague will explore and implement best practices on reaching those leaving correctional facilities with a focus on assisting them with enrollment while connecting them to care and support services.
  • Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA)
    • MPCA’s project will offer four self-paced learning modules for enrollment assisters, including assister onboard training, outreach planning, health literacy, and integrating social determinates of health data in O&E activities.
  • Montana Primary Care Association (MTPCA)
    • MTPCA will further their efforts of the Cover Montana project through a statewide paid media campaign specifically targeting counties with a high American Indian population and low enrollment numbers.

We look forward to sharing some insight and outcomes from these projects in future blog posts.