NACHC began P & I on Capitol Hill with a Community Health Center briefing for Congressional Staffers, offering them a snapshot of the need for primary care services across the country, especially in areas where there is a shortage of doctors. Wednesday, NACHC’s Leaders opened the P & I with a motivating general session that encouraged Community Health Centers to speak for the communities and people they serve, build relationships with their Members of Congress, face health care changes head-on, and to recognize their own value in their community and in the health care system.
Remarking that the stakes have never been higher and that the atmosphere has changed, Chair of the Board, Kaulia Clark, of Waianae Comprehensive Health Center, underscored the value of health center to their communities, and noted that although health centers are at times are stretched thin, they remain participants for their communities and patients.
Clark was followed by NACHC President and CEO, Tom Van Coverden, who roused the audience with a reminder that “the numbers don’t lie” —Community Health Centers provide affordable, quality care that saves the country billions in health care costs. Holding up recent articles and stories about health centers’ cost savings and effectiveness in national publications like Forbes, Van Coverden urged Community Health Center leaders to build relationships with their Members of Congress and to share such critical data and information when asking for health center program support.
NACHC Board Chair Elect, Gary Wiltz, MD, President and CEO of Teche Action Clinic in Franklin, LA, followed Van Coverden, and asked conference attendees if they were ready to act and face the changes that accompany the Affordable Care Act. Dr. Wiltz presented the audience with a tool to help them identify gaps in their delivery of care and challenged them to achieve patient-centered medical home recognition by 2016. He pressed them to consider how they are approaching the patient care experience and to treat their patients how they would want their families and themselves to be treated.As the speeches at the opening session came to a close NACHC SVP of Policy and Research, Dan Hawkins, asked Community Health Centers to be proud that “we stand on the cusp of seminal moment in the history of our republic when in nine months we join the league of nations that believe health care is a birth right.”