Health Center News, NACHC Events, Uncategorized

Charting the Future of Health Care Delivery at the NACHC CHI

By Amy Simmons Farber

The NACHC Community Health Insitute(CHI) and EXPO in Dallas, TX,  concluded with great success and a bold plan for the future.  Among the speakers was Former Health and Human Secretary Michael O. Leavitt, who keynoted the general session.  The former Secretary, who also served as Governor of Utah (1993-2003),  noted that he has visited a Community Health Center in virtually every state in the U.S., and, in some cases, the reason for the visit was to take one of his  sons to the health center so they could be “stitched up.”   Leavitt continued,  “With  all of the Community Health Centers that I have visited around the country I have learned to ask one question: ‘How did you start?’  In virtually every circumstance, I am told a story of people who saw a need and nobly stepped forward to offer their time and money and their hearts.   Over time those small organizations  grew from an office with a nurse,  to a full blown clinic, and then a network of clinics.”

Leavitt also predicted great changes and growth under health reform, saying, “This is a decade when the Community Health Center role will change…they will move from a group of individuals who became clinics and networks and will now be part of the foundation of health reform.”   

Another important component of the CHI  conference was the update from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) that focused on the quality of care at health centers and the future of the health care delivery system.  Jim Macrae, Associate Administrator of the HRSA Bureau of Primary Health Care, shared the latest results of the satisfaction survey from health center patients:  Over 80 percent of patients rated the quality of services as excellent or very good, and over 80 percent were likely to refer friends or relatives to the health center.  Over 75 percent of patients reported that they seek care at their local health center because of the convenience and affordability.  The patient feedback is encouraging as health centers prepare for the future.  Macrae urged health center leaders to begin to chart their course under health reform.  And how to do it?   “[Health centers] need to make sure [they] are accessible and the provider of choice… When 32 million more people have access to health insurance [under the Affordable Care Act]  are you ready?”