Taking place 18 months into a national public health emergency, the 2021 hybrid Community Health Institute (CHI) & EXPO gave participants an opportunity to connect with each other, reflect on lessons we’re learning during the pandemic, and ways to improve operations and enhance care going forward.
Keynote Speaker Michael C. Bush explained that building a truly diverse and incluse organization requires a genuine culture of trust where employees feel they’re treated fairly and equitably and have a sense of belonging and shared purpose.
Guest Speaker Nancy Giles’ unique combination of humor, insight, and genuine appreciation for the health center mission brought attendees to their feet. Giles reminded us of the huge difference health centers make in people’s lives, including her own.
Updates on policy and funding affecting health centers
The NACHC team that makes sure health center priorities are front and center in the minds of decisionmakers briefed the audience on the funding and regulatory outlook for health centers. Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Research Joe Dunn explained the importance of health centers connecting with their elected officials.
After giving an update on the federal 340B drug discount program, Director of Regulatory Affairs Vacheria Tutson reflected that, whether a crisis in the past, the pandemic, or future challenges, health centers will always respond because it is part of their mission: “Health centers have always been a beacon for their communities.”
A new NACHC Board Chair was seated at CHI, as Lathran Woodard passed the gavel to Minnesota health center leader Mike Holmes.
Making time for celebration
On the last night of CHI, NACHC’s reception celebrated both the 50th anniversary and the ongoing strength and unity of the Community Health Center movement. Attendees enjoyed all in a festive setting with delicious food.
Federal partners express appreciation for health center achievements
On the final day of CHI, we gave our federal partners a platform to discuss their priorities. We heard from CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure; Jim Macrae, Associate Administrator, Bureau of Primary Health Care, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and Luis Padilla, Associate Administrator for Health Workforce.
In addition to outlining grant programs to advance health equity and address workforce burnout, among other issues, all three speakers underscored their gratitude and admiration for how health centers answered the call to protect Americans from COVID-19. Brooks-LaSure also praised health centers’ creativity in helping their community sign up for health coverage through HealthCare.gov during the Marketplace Special Enrollment Period, which ended August 15.
Community Health Centers are “important, indispensable, and intrinsic” to our efforts to provide affordable, quality health care to people across America, said LaSure.
As evidence of their respect and appreciation for health centers, HRSA’s Bureau of Primary Health made this video to say thank you.
Save the Date for CHI 2022! Mark your calendars for next year’s CHI: August 28-30, in Chicago.