The NACHC 2017 Community Health Institute and EXPO kicked off yesterday in San Diego and so far it’s been a whirlwind of activity. The EXPO hall is open for business and already the crowds are meandering along the endless aisles of vendor booths. Scores of attendees have arrived to participate in committee meetings, pre-conference trainings, and yesterday’s General Session.
Jim Luisi, the President and CEO of North End Waterfront Health in Boston, MA, was inaugurated as NACHC Board Chair and gave a rousing speech urging for more robust and strengthened advocacy as health centers face a funding cliff next month, particularly as health center patient numbers now reach 27 million.
Luisi noted that despite overwhelming bipartisan support for health centers in Congress, “In today’s atmosphere of budget constraints and partisan division, nothing is guaranteed and we must take nothing for granted.”
“Early on I made it a point to be fully engaged with NACHC. My hope is that the experience I have gained will enable me to provide strong leadership in the next two years. It will be a year of change, challenge and opportunity,” Luisi recounted about his own long and storied career in community health.
Anna Arellano, a patient at Family Health Centers of San Diego, courageously shared with the audience her struggles with addiction and recovery.
She said, “I am 33 years old and was raised in San Diego. I am a recovering drug user. I have struggled with my weight all my life. When I stopped using I realized I was gaining weight and having trouble with apnea. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I started seeing Janet, a dietitian at Family Health Centers. She helped me make better choices, and I ended up following her at every site she was.”
Arellano ended up losing 90 pounds and no longer suffers from Type 2 diabetes.
“I continue to incorporate all that Janet has taught me,” she told the audience, to a standing ovation.
The General Session also featured the presentation of NACHC Outstanding Achievement Awards to Mary Bufwack, Chief Executive Officer of Neighborhood Health, Nashville, TN; Irma Cota, President and CEO of North County Health Services, San Marcos, CA; and Carol Stivers, Board Member, HealthSource of Ohio, Milford, Oh. The CVS Foundation was also honored with the 2017 NACHC Power Through Partnership Award in recognition of their outstanding commitment to the underserved.
On a more somber note, the NACHC conference begins as Hurricane Harvey touched down in Texas. NACHC has received word that our partner Direct Relief has already swung into action and is providing medical relief to patients and health centers in affected areas. According to the just released press release, Direct Relief is coordinating with the Texas Association of Community Health Centers, whose member health centers operate more than 300 health sites throughout the state. We will continue to keep you posted on this, and the happenings at the NACHC CHI as new information develops.
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