One remarkable aspect of the 2019 NACHC Community Health Institute and EXPO is that this is the 50th year of the conference. At the half-century mark, the national gathering is getting bigger than ever, with more than 2,500 attendees and 160 exhibitors in the EXPO Hall.
The conference also marks a transition of leadership on the NACHC Board, with Lathran Johnson Woodard, CEO of the South Carolina Primary Health Care Association, taking the helm as the new Chair of the NACHC Board. In her remarks today during the General Session, Ms. Woodard noted that this year is the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. “Just as they fought and persevered winning passage, and finally ratification of the 19th amendment to the Constitution; we will continue to fight and persevere until there is health coverage and access to quality and affordable care for everyone.”
Woodard also observed that there are more than 100 women now serving in the U.S. Congress – the largest number elected in our history – and many more in state legislatures. “Now more than ever we need their diverse voices in our legislative bodies – whatever their political affiliation. ”
Woodard also laid out priorities for the immediate and long-term future. She urged a robust advocacy push for passage of legislation to secure long-term and stable funding for health centers and for active participation among health center leaders for the fly-in NACHC has scheduled for September 9th and 10th. She also laid out key questions for health centers to consider in a “changing health care environment that demands transformational leadership throughout our ranks.”
Woodard urged health center leaders to consider issues such as growing workforce capacity, as the Health Resources and Services Administration projects a national shortage of as many as 160,000 physicians and a nursing shortage of nearly 1 million. She also pushed for the training of board members and leadership who can “govern complex health organizations” in addition to investing in and developing the latest technologies.
Woodard’s remarks were followed by keynote speaker Barbara Ross-Lee, DO, Dean and Chief Academic Officer of the proposed Minnesota College of Osteopathic Medicine and Provost of the Minnesota Medical University. Dr. Ross-Lee, whose 50-year career span as a clinical and academic leader broke barriers for women and minorities in health professions, provided an insightful assessment of the U.S health care system as not so much a system but a “collection of systems that are loosely connected” and in which circumstances “create challenges for the recipients.” She added, “Community Health Centers represent a true system within the bigger care system and are constantly innovating to address confounding problems. I am encouraging you to keep leading and keep collaborating with an open heart. The future well-being of communities depends on you in so many ways. “
Another featured a speaker during the General Session was Kimberly Chang, MD, of Asian Health Services in Oakland, CA, who provided an update and assessment of the Public Charge Rule for attendees.
The General Session ended with the presentation of the 2019 NACHC Outstanding Achievement Awards to Susan Bauer, Executive Director of Community Health Partnership of Illinois; Marty Lynch, Executive Director, Lifelong Medical Care, Berkeley, CA and Tom Trompeter, Chief Executive Officer of HealthPoint, Renton, WA.
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