Didn’t make it to this year’s NACHC Policy & Issues Forum? There was a lot to miss. There was great dialogue about health care, the direction of health care reform, a tribute to the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, and a standing room only Congressional Awards Reception at the Newseum where Members of Congress and Grassroots Advocates were honored.
Mary Wakefield, Administrator of Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), was among the highlighted speakers and used the P & I to tout health center accomplishments under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:
“We’ve seen the largest increase in new patients – more than 1.6 million – in the 45-year history of the Community Health Center program…closing in fast on an all-time high of 20 million people; We’ve seen the largest recruitment and retention effort ever accomplished in such a short period of time – over 6,700 staff, including more than 1,200 new primary care providers;And we’ve seen as much as $3.2 billion in related economic activity generated, from an original Recovery Act investment in our health centers of $2 billion by the Congress and President Obama.”
Wakefield also identifed key areas where the work is just beginning, among them, meeting the “increased demand for services… building new sites and improving existing ones,” “purchasing new equipment and installing electronic health record systems” and intensive provider recruitment and retention drive.” You can read more of Wakefield’s speech at the P & I by visiting the HRSA web site.
Another key highlight of the P & I came during the closing general session, which celebrated 45 years of Community Health Centers. Three of the original pioneers who helped establish one of the very first health centers gathered to tell stories and lessons learned during the early days of the health center movement: H, Jack Geiger, MD, Arthur C. Logan Professor Emeritus at City University of New York Medical School; John Dittmer, Professor Emeritus of History at DePauw University in Greencastle, IN; and John Hatch, Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
While this conference proved to be successful, we’re looking forward to an even bigger and better conference next year.