Health Center News, Uncategorized

2009 in Review: Top 10 — Make That 14 — Media Mentions

By: Beau Boughamer

What a year it was for media spotlight!  Health centers were in the headlines almost continuously, as stimulus announcements gave way to examinations of health centers’ potential role in health reform — to say nothing of the heavy attention given to H1N1 Flu.

We tried to identify the top 10 media “hits” of the year and ended up with 14.

This list doesn’t include the great coverage seen when heavy media interest was predictable due to the nature of the event — for example, First Lady Michelle Obama’s visits to Mary’s Center and to Unity Health Care in Washington, DC; HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield’s Increased Demand for Services announcement; the President’s own Facility Investment Program press conference; and of course National Health Center Week.  Separately collected are stories that contemplated the health center legacy of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

This list, then, focuses on the pieces that emerged from media interest in the broader story of health centers.  Thanks to everyone who played a part in securing positive coverage for health centers this year.  The top health center stories of the year… after the jump.

In chronological order:

Local Health Centers Key to Care: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) promoted health centers in an editorial that appeared in Politico, The Hill and the Huffington Post shortly after the inauguration and put Community Health Centers front and center at the beginning of the health reform debate.

Will Stimulus Bill Cure Health Care? The NBC Nightly News ran a piece on the effectiveness of health centers and increased demand for services, using Minnesota’s Open City Health Center as the setting.  The segment discussed ways in which the stimulus package would help bring some relief to an influx of Americans in need of health care and coverage.

Obama Pushes Centers as One Focus of Health Reform: As the health reform conversation began in earnest in March, a Reuters “backgrounder” on health centers drew enormous attention, due in part to the fact that it was linked from the widely read Drudge Report.

Study Documents Surge in Number of Medically Disenfranchised: During the 2009 Policy and Issues Forum, NACHC released Primary Care Access:  An Essential Building Block of Health Reform, a report revealing that the number of medically disenfranchised Americans had risen to 60 million.  AAFP News Now provided in-depth coverage.

Health Centers Fill Medical Void: USA Today ran a major feature on the health care safety net, heavily emphasizing health centers.  The piece appeared in late April, by which time increased demand was being seen at health centers across the country due to the economic downturn.

Flu Fears Fill Community Health Centers: Kaiser Health News and NPR News collaborated on a piece that examined the front-line role of health centers as H1N1 Flu became more widespread in the spring.

Community Health Centers Benefit from Stimulus: Probably the most high-profile media attention of the year came from the esteemed PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer.  Health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser visited Lorain County Health and Dentistry in Ohio to see how health centers serve people who need care.

Help for the Uninsured: The Wall Street Journal, in its continuing health reform coverage, spotlighted Community Health Centers in July — focusing on the potential effects of the stimulus.

Fate Hinges on Nation’s Health Care Future: — a project of the online magazine Slate — examined plans to expand at United Neighborhood Health Services in Nashville, Tennessee.  This story featured some great photographs of the renovations of a building that would become a new health center location.

Hard to Believe! It would have been hard to ask for a more glowing op-ed than the piece by Bob Herbert of the New York Times, who wrote about the Community Health Centers that serve Vermont.

Health Centers Have Key Role in Health Reform: By October, the likely expanded role of health centers was a component of health reform that reporters everywhere were noticing.  The Associated Press distributed to dozens of newspapers and websites a story focusing on several health centers in California.

Hope on the Front Lines: USA Today returned to health centers in early December as it profiled providers, including physicians at Louisiana’s Teche Action Clinic and Connecticut’s Charter Oak Health Center.  This piece also had some of the best photos of the year.

Census 2010 Outreach: The NBC Nightly News came back to health centers twice in December.  In both cases, the stories were not about health centers specifically; rather, they were about important national happenings in which health centers have figured or will figure prominently.  Chicago Family Health Center was featured in the first piece, about Census 2010 efforts…

Flu Cases Continue to Fall: …and the Institute for Family Health was the setting for an update on demand for H1N1 Flu vaccine.