FOM-IT What Happened in Vegas Didn’t Stay in Vegas

FOM/IT attendees listen to opening remarks at the General Session at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas, NV.

FOM/IT attendees listen to opening remarks at the General Session at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas, NV.

Our guest blogger today is Zach Zagar, Sales and Marketing Specialist with NACHC Membership, who offers this wrap up of the NACHC FOM-IT conference in Las Vegas, NV.

With nearly 800 people in attendance, this was the best-attended FOM/IT conference ever.  If you are part of the executive team at your health center responsible for decisions impacting these areas of your operations, you missed a great conference.

Of the several annual gatherings NACHC hosts each year, FOM/IT is often referred to as the “roll up our sleeves” conference due to the rigorous “classroom” work being undertaken. Attendees participated in educational sessions, user groups, forums, learning labs, and heard from our engaging keynote presenter, Jonathan Cohn.  Mr. Cohn is an author, senior editor of The New Republic magazine, and a leading voice in the health care reform debate.

Selected Sessions Offered:

  • What’s Not Happening in Your Billing Department: You Would be Surprised
  • Best Practices in Health Center Financial Operations Including Payment
  • Rip and Replace: Changing your EHR
  • Attending to Privacy and Security in HIT
  • Does EMR Adoption Create Value?

Learning Labs:

  • Data-Driven Decision Making
  • Managed Care Cost Reporting for FQHC

For a full list of the sessions, labs, and forums offered at FOM/IT, see the “Schedule at a Glance” here.

On the Monday prior to the start of FOM/IT, many took advantage of NACHC’S Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Institute course. The CFO Institute is a new leadership development program for CFO’s designed to enhance skills for those in the position less than two years.  The CFO is critical in ensuring the financial health of the health center they work in. Feedback on the first in-person course of the series has been great. While the current series of courses is at capacity, please stay tuned to NACHC’s website for news on the series. Learn more about the CFO Institute here.

Also new this year was an update from Amanda Pears Kelly, NACHC’S National Advocacy Director, on the Access Is The Answer campaign. Normally, advocacy and legislative updates are presented at NACHC’s Policy and Issues forum held during March in Washington, DC; however, the months ahead require an “all hands on deck” strategy from the health center movement. Amanda updated attendees on the E-mail Surge to Members of Congress advocating for a fix to the funding cliff that health centers face if Congress and the President fail to act. The “E-mail Surge” comes on the heels of the successful efforts of NACHC advocates to send a bipartisan letter to Congressional leaders in support of a long-term legislative fix to the funding cliff.  Stay up to date and become a health center advocate by joining the Access IS The Answer campaign at

In addition to the informative and exciting programming at FOM/IT, attendees met with vendors who provide the many solutions that are making the mission of operating a health center easier, efficient, and more cost effective on the FOM/IT EXPO floor. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn what new solutions and technologies are available today and what is on the horizon in the future. The Expo concluded with great “NACHC-OPOLY” prizes like a Mac Book Pro and an iPad Air from NACHC, as well as gift certificates from several of the exhibitors.

MyNACHC users who where unable to attend should stay tuned for content from FOM/IT in the coming weeks. With such an aggressive course catalog as well as the other highlights, it is easy to see why FOM/IT continues to receive such high marks from conference attendees. Next year’s programming aims to build on the successes of years’ past.

Make time on your calendar for October 27-29 2015 today.

News for Health Centers about Outreach and Enrollment

Our guest blogger today is Ted Henson, Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Outreach and Enrollment Project, with the latest updates and information for health centers as they get ready for Open Enrollment on November 15.

The Open Enrollment period to enroll in coverage for 2015 begins on November 15, 2014, and health centers that did not originally receive FY13 Outreach and Enrollment (O&E) supplemental funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently got some good news.

HRSA awarded supplemental funding for outreach and enrollment (O&E) work to 91 health centers in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The awards went to health centers that were newly funded in FY 2013 or FY 2014 and to health centers that had not previously received HRSA O&E supplemental funds.

These O&E funds will help health centers that were not funded previously to provide outreach to uninsured patients and communities and to enroll eligible patients and service area residents into affordable health insurance coverage through Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the state and federal health insurance exchanges.

Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP is year-round, but enrollment in insurance coverage through the exchanges is only possible between November 15, 2014 and February 15, 2014, notwithstanding any potential life changes that would qualify an individual in a special enrollment period.

For more information, refer to HRSA’s webpage on health center O&E Assistance.

Health Centers and Readiness for Ebola

blogebolaA new survey from the organization Direct Relief shows that one-third of America’s safety-net facilities are reporting a limited supply of waterproof shoe covers, gowns, face shields, single-use respirators and other personal protective equipment (PPE) that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends for treating Ebola patients.

Health center staff have expressed concern regarding equitable access to PPE and have sought clarification on the PPE standards for ambulatory care for suspected Ebola cases, according to Ron Yee, MD, Chief Medical Officer at NACHC.  “Health centers are critical partners in the containment of communicable disease outbreaks,” said Yee. “There is a lot of fear in the communities regarding the Ebola virus and we need to assure our patients that we will provide safe care while also protecting our health center staff.”

The survey comes on the heels of a Teleforum call NACHC hosted to address specific concerns about Ebola and other communicable diseases. Health center staff from all over the U.S. participated in the call. Speakers included clinical and emergency preparedness staff from the Family Health Center of Worcester (where Rick Sacra, MD, an Ebola survivor, is a physician) and the Massachusetts league of Community Health Centers.  A central point of discussion was best practices when it comes to internal and external protocols for dealing with suspected cases of Ebola, providing culturally appropriate care, as well as response coordination among federal partners.  A recording of that call can be accessed by visiting this link.

Some health centers are also drawing media notice for their expert handling and preparation in dealing with suspected Ebola cases around the country, such as People’s Health  Center in Lincoln, NE.

Meanwhile, to stay updated on this important topic please visit the NACHC clinical page on Ebola for the latest information and resources.

Ebola Update

could-it-be-ebolaNew travel constraints have been imposed on people entering the U.S. from three countries at the center of West Africa’s Ebola epidemic.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says starting next week travelers from those countries will be directed to check in with health officials every day and report their temperatures and any Ebola symptoms for 21 days.  Although only two people have been diagnosed with the illness,  media coverage about the Ebola Virus Disease continues to raise fears among the public.

Community Health Centers are fielding phone calls from worried patients and staff.  They are also practicing readiness, reviewing screening protocols and procedures, and taking inventory of their personal protective equipment (PPE).  Whitney Young Health , a Community Health Center in upstate New York recently told the local newspaper the Times Union in an article  that it has “held four infection control meetings. and created an internal process for handling a patient with a travel history to West Africa.”  Dr. Kallanna Manjunath said, “We need to be prepared, both for patients’ sake and, equally important, for our staff.”

The Health Resources and Services Administration  (HRSA) has also posted a Ebola resource page on their web site and is directing health centers questions/concerns about Ebola to the CDC and/or their state and local health departments, and to leverage State/Regional Primary Care Associations (SRPCAs) on concerns that have not yet been addressed at the federal level.  SRPCAs are already sending out important CDC alerts to their health centers and gathering information. One concern is whether health centers have equitable access to personal protective equipment (PPE), and that staff have sufficient training in putting on and removing PPE, if that becomes necessary. CDC has posted a new guidance that instructs healthcare workers on this topic.

Health center specific concerns about Ebola and other communicable diseases will be the focus today of NACHC’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ronald Yee and health center experts from the field. They will lead an important NACHC TeleForum about the role of health centers in the Ebola outbreak today at 12:00 Noon – 1:00 p.m ET.  To join the conversation  health centers must call in must call in by directly dialing 1-877-229-8493 and entering PIN: 15035. The call will be recorded and accessible to those unable to attend. You can find the recordings and source documents at (just click on “Clinical Issues”).  The recording will be available approximately two business days after the event.

Stay tuned as we keep you posted on these fast moving developments.

Ebola and Community Health Centers

facts-about-ebolaThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is trying to ensure that providers are prepared in case more cases of the Ebola virus are detected. A second healthcare worker at the Texas Presbyterian Hospital has now tested positive for the virus after coming into contact with a patient who died from Ebola. CDC and its partners are taking precautions to prevent the spread of Ebola within the United States. Among the resources coming out from CDC is a resource/checklist for Outpatient/ Ambulatory Care Settings. Representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services are also hosting a conference call on Monday, October 20th at 1 pm, ET for hospital executives, hospital emergency management directors, and safety officers to describe how to prepare healthcare systems to protect health and safety should an Ebola patient be present at the facility. We will post the call information as soon as its available.

In the meantime NACHC is also urging health centers to work directly with local public health departments to ensure an effective and coordinated response. NACHC is advising health centers to ramp up their front desk/scheduling operations to ensure appropriate screening of patients. If a patient is concerned that they are exhibiting symptoms of Ebola, the protocol for telephone screening should first and foremost rule out whether the patient has traveled to any of the countries affected by the Ebola Virus Disease. If appropriate, the patient should be referred to a facility that is equipped and prepared to handle such cases without presenting to the health center and possibly exposing others. Call ahead of time to alert the facility that a suspected case will be presenting, so that they can prepare for their arrival.

NACHC’s Chief Medical Officer Ron Yee, MD, also offers some cautionary advice: “While we are greatly concerned about the protection of our communities, patients and staff from the Ebola virus, taking the appropriate measures, we need to make sure that we are also protecting our populations from influenza and addressing enterovirus cases. These conditions will affect a great number of individuals and are also very important, from a public health standpoint. We should not let the fear of Ebola distract us from the important work of prevention. While taking the proper steps to address Ebola, make sure you and your loved ones get vaccinated, wash your hands frequently, and cover your coughs. These are things everyone can do now to stay healthy.”

Finally, don’t forget to include communications in your response planning. The primary goal is to educate and to allay fears about Ebola and emphasize to the community and patients that staff are trained and prepared to deal with public health threats.