Kevin Mallouf: Defensor espectacular para junio 2015

Nuestro equipo está emocionado anunciar nuestro defensor espectacular para junio 2015, Kevin Mallouf, oficial de seguridad en Salud Family Health Centers en Colorado. Kevin ha usado su posición en Salud para aumentar la actividad de su centro de salud en la campaña Salud es la Solución.

Kevin empezó a trabajar en Salud en su sitio en Fort Collins después de haberse jubilado del mundo hace nueve años y mudarse a Colorado para estar cerca a su familia. Le interesó mucho la defensa después de aprender sobre el precipicio financiero que los centros de salud iban a experimentar. Él se dio cuenta de que una reducción de 70% al financiamiento de los centros de salud se estaba haciendo más cerca cada día. Fue un sentido de la urgencia que lo motivó a involucrarse.

Además de hacer dos llamadas a sus miembros del Congreso para expresar su apoyo para los centros de salud y animar a sus miembros a votar para H.R. 2, Kevin usó su posición como un oficial de seguridad para aumentar el apoyo comunitario para los centros de salud. En su posición, Kevin puede moverse por el centro de salud – no tiene que quedarse en un escritorio o detrás de un mostrador. Por eso, pudo recoger un gran número de firmas en la petición para Salud es la Solución. Kevin no habla español, pero explicó el precipicio financiero a sus colegas bilingües para que ellos pudieran recoger firmas de hispanohablantes. Dándose cuenta del potencial en involucrar a los pacientes en la defensa, él se puso en contacto con otros oficiales de seguridad en las otras ubicaciones de Salud y los animó a recoger firmas también. Para él, fue sencillo: “Ninguno de nosotros queríamos ver los centros de salud desaparecer, así que nos juntamos y  mandamos un mensaje. Estamos muy agradecidos que funcionó,” dijo Kevin.

Jennifer Morse, vicepresidente de desarrollo en Salud, dice esto de este defensor espectacular: “Kevin ha sido un defensor instrumental por su disposición y entusiasmo para involucrar a los pacientes mientras ellos esperaban sus citas y compartir como Salud recibe su financiamiento para asegurar que pueda ofrecer servicios a bajo costo en la comunidad. Como un oficial de seguridad, es móvil y puede caminar por la clínica e involucrar a sus colegas y los pacientes para animarlos a firmar la petición y responder a las alertas de NACHC, todo con una sonrisa feliz y verdadera convicción. Es un ‘rock star’ de la defensa. Gracias a sus esfuerzos, muchas personas participaron en la defensa que de otra manera no hubieran participado, y ayudó a los pacientes a entender que sus voces son críticas a asegurar la sostenibilidad y éxito del programa de los centros de salud. ¡Gracias, Kevin!”

¡Muchísimas gracias, Kevin, por todo su trabajo involucrando a los pacientes y sus colegas en la defensa! Usted también tendrá una oportunidad para participar en Salud es la Solución. Pronto compartiremos recursos y pasos de acción para el próximo fase de Salud es la Solución.

¿Conoce a un defensor espectacular que merece atención? Por favor, póngase en contacto con Elizabeth Kwasnik en ekwasnik@nachc.org.

Kevin Mallouf: June 2015 Outstanding Advocate

salud

NACHC’s advocacy team is excited to announce the Outstanding Advocate for June 2015, Kevin Mallouf, Security Officer at Salud Family Health Centers in Colorado. Kevin has stepped up and leveraged his position at the Health Center to bolster Salud’s advocacy efforts on the Access is the Answer campaign!

Kevin joined the team at Salud’s Fort Collins location after retiring from the corporate world nine years ago and moving to Colorado to be closer to family. He took an interest in advocacy after hearing about the Health Center Funding Cliff and realizing that a 70% cut to funding was inching ever closer with each passing day. It was that sense of urgency that motivated him to get involved.

In addition to participating in the two call-in days to voice his support and encourage that of his Members of Congress on H.R. 2, Kevin took advantage of the nature of his job to ramp up advocacy efforts at the grassroots level. As a security officer, Kevin is able to move about the Health Center rather than being stationed at a desk or counter; being able to interact with a wide variety of people enabled him to collect a large number of petition signatures in a short amount of time. While he doesn’t speak Spanish, he would explain what the Access is the Answer Campaign and the Funding Cliff is to those who do, and they in turn would gather with other Spanish-speakers and collect petition signatures from them on his behalf. Realizing the potential for and importance of engaging patients in Health Center Advocacy, he reached out to fellow security officers at Salud’s other sites and encouraged them to get involved in a similar way. The reason was simple. “None of us want to see the community clinics go away, so everyone banded together and sent a message, [and we’re] very grateful it worked,” he said.

Jennifer Morse, VP of Development at Salud says of this Outstanding Advocate, “Kevin has been an instrumental advocate by his willingness and enthusiasm to engage patients while waiting for their appointments, and sharing how Salud receives funding to ensure affordable services are available in the community. As a security officer, he is mobile and is able to walk around the clinic and engage staff and patients to encourage them to sign the petition and respond to NACHC Calls for Action, all with a cheerful smile and true conviction in his belief. Kevin is an unsung advocacy rockstar. Thanks to his efforts, many participated in advocacy who would not have otherwise, and he helped patients understand how critical their voice is in ensuring the sustainability and success of the FQHC program. Thank you Kevin!”

Kudos, Kevin, for all of your hard work to engage patients and fellow staff in advocacy! To all advocates– stay tuned for more information on the next phase of Access is the Answer.

Do you know an Outstanding Advocate who deserves this recognition? Let us know! Email Elizabeth Kwasnik at ekwasnik@nachc.org.

We Did It! The Senate Passed H.R. 2!

Late last night, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass H.R. 2 (92 – 8). This bill, which will soon be signed into law by President Obama, includes $7.2 billion in mandatory funding for the Health Centers Program, as well as continued funding for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and Teaching Health Centers (THC) for two years. Moreover, passage of this bill means access to care is now protected for 28 million people CHCs are projected to serve by next year! Read the NACHC statement on the passage of H.R. 2 here.

You, and thousands of Health Center Advocates made this victory a reality. Your calls and emails, visits with Members of Congress in Washington and back home, letters to the editor, Health Center Week events – Your commitment to advocacy and YOUR ACTION made this success happen for Health Centers and the patients they serve. Make no mistake, the power of advocacy has never been more real!

Our job as Health Center Advocates is far from over, there is much work to be done in the weeks, months and years ahead. But today, we celebrate and say THANK YOU, to each and every Health Center Advocate, for your incredible commitment and advocacy action! And, we must also say THANK YOU to the 92 U.S. Senators and 392 U.S Representatives that voted YES on H.R. 2 to support Health Centers.

This victory is renewed evidence of the power of your grassroots advocacy – because of you, tens of thousands of people will continue their work in and for Health Centers, and MILLIONS of people will continue to have access to care at Health Centers. You made a difference! Well done!!

Krista Dover and Cassie Hailey: April 2015 Outstanding Advocates

NACHC’s advocacy team is excited to announce the Outstanding Advocates for April 2015, Krista Dover, MSW Advocacy Intern at the Community Health & Service Center (CHASS) in Michigan and Cassie Hailey, Corporate Strategy Intern at HealthLinc in Indiana! Interns are an incredibly valuable resource when it comes to establishing or bolstering the advocacy programming and activity at your Health Center, and this month we wanted to recognize two women who have gone above and beyond.

NACHC Blog Headshot_kdoverKrista Dover began her internship with CHASS in January through the University of Michigan, where she is pursuing her Masters in Social Work. She brought with her experience as a caseworker for a homeless organization and as a community organizer in Southwest Detroit, which has served her well in the Health Center world and at CHASS. One of her two top priorities from the get go was working with the Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA) and NACHC on the Access is the Answer campaign to fix the Health Center Funding Cliff. She set to work immediately and directed her advocacy focus toward engaging local elected officials and collecting as many letters of support from them and other community leaders as she could, to demonstrate the broad support CHASS enjoys in Detroit and the impact that a 70% loss of funding to the Center would have on the community at large. In just over a month, she secured six letters to be sent to Members of Congress on CHASS’ behalf. “While it was no easy feat acquiring these letters in a short 6 week time frame, I must emphasize that it would not have been possible if it weren’t for the presence of strong community ties that each elected official maintains with their constituents, that CHASS maintains in its continued service to the community and the history I also have with this community that I call home,” Krista notes. In mid-March, Ricardo Guzman, CEO of CHASS and Chair-Elect of NACHC’s Board of Directors, attended the Policy & Issues Forum in Washington, DC, and met with Michigan’s congressional delegation. In large part due to Krista’s efforts on the ground obtaining letters and petition signatures, Mr. Guzman was able to present more than 200 petition signatures from staff and patients and over 1,100 letters of support to Michigan Members of Congress! He says of Krista, “she has done an outstanding job coordinating advocacy not only for CHASS, but also for the FQHC Council members of Southeastern Michigan. As noted by Wayne Bradley, CEO of Detroit Community Health Connection in Detroit: Krista has done a terrific job!”

Health Centers’ advocacy work is never done; now that the House has passed H.R. 2, which includes a two-year extension of Health Center Funding, Krista has turned her attention to the other FQHCs in Detroit to make sure they all work together to keep up the momentum and urge the Senate to pass their bill when they return from recess on April 13. Keep up the great work, Krista!

Hailey CassieOur other outstanding advocate this month is Cassie Hailey. Cassie joined HealthLinc last fall as a Corporate Strategy Intern as part of her program in social work and international service at Valparaiso University, where she is currently a senior. She became interested in public health during a semester abroad in Costa Rica after taking a comparative study course looking at health care delivery systems in the United States and Latin America. When Cassie started at HealthLinc, one of her top priorities was to work with Health Center leadership and NACHC on the Access is the Answer campaign. She began to build upon HealthLinc’s culture of advocacy by engaging more patients, staff, and board members, ultimately increasing their overall involvement and participation in advocacy and the Access campaign. As part of a large advocacy email/letter push at the end of October, Cassie was responsible for collecting and sending over 1,500 support letters from all of HealthLinc’s sites to Indiana’s congressional delegation. In conjunction with Phase 3 of Access is the Answer, and in collaboration with HealthLinc’s site managers, Cassie is now focusing her efforts on creating “advocacy champions” at each Health Center location that will engage their fellow staff and patients in advocacy work- not just on Access is the Answer- moving forward. In addition to identifying these “champions”, Cassie is working to develop a training packet with information on the role and responsibilities of these individuals, as well as information on upcoming action items. These recent efforts also speak to the larger culture of advocacy that CEO Beth Wrobel has been instrumental in establishing at HealthLinc, something that is the foundation for creating a robust and successful advocacy program at any Health Center. But, like any good program, this has been a team effort. Beth notes that “we thought we were doing advocacy, but it was not until Cassie started as our intern that we realized we could have a “best-in-class” program. Our employees are better informed regarding the federal and state issues that are affecting HealthLinc and the Health Center world because of Cassie’s efforts.”

Thank you, Cassie, for all of your hard work on the Access is the Answer campaign and advocacy in general—a job very well done!

 

Do you know an Outstanding Advocate who deserves this recognition? Let us know! Email Elizabeth Kwasnik at ekwasnik@nachc.org.

Spotlight: ALP Master of Advocacy- Amber Walters

“Spotlight: ALP Masters of Advocacy” is a CFAHC blog series that shines a light on individuals who completed the Advocacy Leadership Program (ALP). Each year the ALP begins at NACHC’s Policy & Issues Forum continues throughout the year via advocacy educational webinars and an ALP Advocacy Project. Participants learn from both NACHC Advocacy Staff and each other how to develop and hone their advocacy skills in order to build advocacy capacity and develop a robust network on the ground in their communities. These blog articles feature the creative and successful advocacy work completed by some graduates of the ALP.

Amber WaltersToday, we’re hearing from Amber Walters, 2014 ALP Master of Advocacy, regarding her work to strengthen relationships with elected officials at Primary Health Network in western Pennsylvania.   

Advocacy is defined in the dictionary as the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal. I learned through NACHC’s Advocacy Leadership Program the true meaning of advocacy is working together for the greater good of Health Centers. It was so interesting to see other Health Center’s perspectives on different issues and how different, yet similar, we all are.

My biggest challenge with advocacy is keeping in constant communication with elected officials. I work for the largest Health Center in Pennsylvania, and we currently serve 11 counties in the state as well as one county in Ohio – and we have plans to keep expanding. This means I have to maintain an ongoing relationship with two Governors, four Senators, six Congressmen, nine State Senators, and 15 State Representatives. This is much easier said than done, but advocacy leadership training has helped me make progress.

When I was promoted to Government and Public Relations Coordinator in October 2013, the government side of my new position scared me. I wasn’t sure how to go about maintaining relationships with elected officials, what laws I should be paying attention to, or who I even needed to contact. I am so grateful that the ALP was offered at P&I in spring 2014 because that is where I truly learned the most and got my feet wet in the world of advocacy.

I learned that there are people at NACHC and at my state association, the Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers, that help by identifying issues important to Health Centers so that it’s not necessary search for hours –  they let you know exactly what is going to impact your Health Center. They also tell you who you need to talk to about these issues and the different methods to use to do so. They are great resources and are really helpful whenever I need guidance.

I would highly recommend Advocacy Leadership Program to any FQHC employee since we should all be Advocates for Health Centers, and I especially recommend the program to those in the role of government liaison. I am so grateful for my experience with the program and look forward to seeing many more graduates throughout the years. Thank you NACHC staff for educating us all and for investing in us.

 

Thank you, Amber, for being a shining example of a Health Center Advocate and for your work promoting Health Centers and the Access is the Answer campaign with your many elected officials! Congratulations on completing the ALP and being an official Master of Advocacy!

Amanda Palmore: February 2015 Outstanding Advocate

headshotNACHC’s advocacy team is excited to announce the Outstanding Advocate for February 2015, Amanda Palmore, Director of Marketing and Government Affairs at Central Virginia Health Services (CVHS)!

After attending the Advocacy Leadership Program as part of NACHC’s Policy & Issues Forum in 2013, Amanda returned to CVHS with tons of ideas and eager to implement an advocacy strategy starting from the top down. With the full support of CVHS’ CEO, Rod Manifold (a very important factor in the success of your Health Center’s advocacy program!), she began to engage the Board of Directors by providing regular advocacy updates, provided training to the Advisory Councils at each of CVHS’ sites, and started to include both of these groups on Action Alerts that had previously only been sent out to staff members.

At the staff level, Amanda instituted advocacy as a standing agenda item at quarterly meetings, discussing various initiatives and how they could be implemented across all CVHS sites. On the Access is the Answer campaign, for example, Amanda tried to engage as many sites and people as possible and incorporated some friendly competition—the sites with the most petition signatures at the end of a given period would win a catered meal. Making advocacy fun at CVHS certainly paid off—they were one of our top-performing Health Centers on the Access is the Answer petition!

Beyond getting staff members themselves to participate, Amanda wanted to go the extra mile and empower them to engage patients, recognizing their importance and power as advocates. “One of the challenges of having fifteen sites serving fifteen counties and four cities in Virginia, is the vast number of legislators we have.  At the state level, we have 20+ legislators we keep in touch with, and five Congressmen.  With hot button issues like the Health Center Funding Cliff and Medicaid expansion, we NEED our advocates to speak up.”

Amanda took on the challenge of the expansive network by setting up trainings; staff members were given a brief history of the Health Center Program, introduced to their legislators, and brought up to speed on the Health Center Funding Cliff. After the training, most people felt more comfortable talking to patients about getting involved in advocacy and better able to speak to Health Center issues. CVHS also provided flyers and postcards with the contact information for Members of Congress, as well as talking points to guide patients when calling or emailing those Members.

Amanda’s hard work and dedication to advocacy hasn’t gone unnoticed, especially by Rick Shinn, Director of Government Affairs at the Virginia Community Healthcare Association. “Every health center needs someone like Amanda. She is in constant motion, keeping everyone up to date on advocacy. She works hard- and that is the key, it takes work and commitment- for advocacy to be successful. We are blessed to have her leading advocacy efforts for her Health Centers.” Amanda was also a NACHC Grassroots Advocacy MVP award winner in 2013!

Thanks for all you do, Amanda, and keep up the great work! Congratulations on being our February 2015 Outstanding Advocate!

 

Do you know an Outstanding Advocate who deserves this recognition? Let us know! Email Elizabeth Kwasnik at ekwasnik@nachc.org.

 

Spotlight: ALP Master of Advocacy- Soledad (Buenaventura) Vilela

“Spotlight: ALP Masters of Advocacy” is a CFAHC blog series that shines a light on individuals who completed the Advocacy Leadership Program (ALP). Each year the ALP begins at NACHC’s Policy & Issues Forum continues throughout the year via advocacy educational webinars and an ALP Advocacy Project. Participants learn from both NACHC Advocacy Staff and each other how to develop and hone their advocacy skills in order to build advocacy capacity and develop a robust network on the ground in their communities. These blog articles feature the creative and successful advocacy work completed by some graduates of the ALP.

Today, we are celebrating the work of Soledad Vilela, 2014 ALP Master of Advocacy. About the ALP, Soledad says, “The Advocacy Leadership Program has been a great way to learn about what other health centers are doing and also to remind me of how we are all different but we all experience similar challenges. Thank you for this great opportunity!”

alp soledad

After graduating from NACHC’s Advocacy Leadership Program, Soledad was invited to participate on the Public Affairs Committee led by the Association for Utah Community Health (AUCH). Working with the Committee she focused her efforts on the Access is the Answer campaign, collecting letters of support to forward to Senator Orrin Hatch urging him to continue backing federal funding for Community Health Centers (CHCs). She emailed letters to numerous community partners. To make the process as easy as possible for each partner, Soledad developed a personalized letter which detailed how each particular agency works with her CHC. The partner agency only needed to print the letter on letterhead and send it back to her. Soledad was especially pleased when their Mayor who is very supportive of Midtown CHC sent the letter and received a timely response from Senator Hatch. By making the process as easy as possible, Soledad was able to garner 16 great letters from her community to the Senator!

With plenty of inspiration from Soledad, Midtown CHC in conjunction with AUCH developed and hosted a ‘Governor’s Medicaid Expansion Forum’ at two of their sites. The Lt. Governor and the Executive Director of the Utah Department of Health toured the clinics and met with community and business leaders to review the Governor’s Medicaid expansion plan. The Governor’s Plan, which still requires approval by Utah’s legislature, would assist an estimated 77,000 individuals. Regardless of the determinations of the Utah legislature, Midtown CHC remains committed to its mission to serve all those in need from their six sites in Salt Lake, Davis, and Weber counties.

 

Soledad Vilela

Formerly with Midtown Community Health Center in Ogden, Utah

Congratulations, Soledad, on completing the Advocacy Leadership Program and being one of our 2014 Masters of Advocacy!

A Message From NACHC President & CEO Tom Van Coverden to Advocates

Dear Health Center Advocates,

As we begin 2015, we begin the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Health Center Program. From their beginnings as part of the War on Poverty, 50 years ago until today, Health Centers have played a unique role in America’s healthcare system by providing access to quality healthcare to everyone in the communities they serve, regardless of patients’ ability to pay.50th

Yet now, as we celebrate that legacy of success, we are also faced with the biggest threat to the Health Center Program since its creation 50 years ago. The Health Center Funding Cliff – a looming 70% reduction in funding for the Health Center Program hangs over the program’s golden anniversary. Without action by Congress, this devastating reduction in Health Center funding will occur this fall and, if that happens, millions of people that Health Centers were created to serve will no longer have access to care.

I am sending you this message today because as a Health Center Advocate YOU have the power to preserve the Health Center Program and ensure a healthy future for Health Centers and the patients they serve. Congress MUST ACT to avert this funding cliff and, while we have all been working hard for months now to get Congress to act, the issue has not yet been addressed.

It is clear that Congress will not act to fix the cliff unless YOU and EVERY Health Center Advocate takes action in the weeks and months ahead by relentlessly calling, emailing and personally meeting with your Members of Congress. With so many contentious issues to be addressed this year, we have to break through the noise and partisan rhetoric to get Congress to act. We MUST tell the story of what fixing the cliff means locally and make taking action an immediate priority for every Member of Congress. The only way that can happen is if you and the community leaders you recruit as Health Center Advocates make it clear to Congress what their failure to fix the Health Center Funding Cliff would mean to your patients and your community. Use the cliff estimator tool to help estimate the impact of the funding cliff to your Health Center.

For 50 years, Health Center Advocates like you have preserved and built this incredible Health Center Movement. No matter which way the political winds have blown, grassroots advocates like you made sure that elected officials, opinion leaders, the media and other important partners knew the health center story and made possible the 50 year legacy of success we celebrate this year.

Tom Head ShotToday, I am personally asking YOU to step up and to redouble your advocacy to ensure that the legacy of success built by your Health Center Movement will continue. Right NOW, we need you to help us build and mobilize our advocacy army by asking your friends, family and colleagues to sign up as Health Center Advocates and to take action. I’m asking you to recommit yourself to taking action whenever called upon – that means taking as little as three minutes to send an email or make a phone call (toll free) to your Members of Congress. I’m asking you to commit to personally asking your Member of Congress to fix the funding cliff, repeatedly if necessary.

There is much at stake this year for Health Centers and their patients and failure is simply not an option!

Thank you.

tvc sig

 

 

Tom Van Coverden

President & CEO, NACHC

Patrick Butler: January 2015 Outstanding Advocate

pbutlerNACHC’s advocacy team is excited to announce the Outstanding Advocate for January 2015, Patrick Butler, CEO of Northland Community Health Center (NCHC) in Turtle Lake, ND!

Patrick Butler joined the Northland team in January 2012 after serving as the director of a Texas Health Center for a number of years. Bringing with him 25+ years of business experience and a passion for advocacy, he set to work to raise the profile of NCHC.

In his short tenure at Northland, Patrick has already done much to create a culture of advocacy among not only the board and staff, but also within the community.

He started with a top-down approach, incorporating basic advocacy training (including signing up as a NACHC advocate) into new board member orientation. Finding it difficult to motivate folks to get out in the community at first, he began to present NACHC’s Washington Update at board meetings and charge members to take action on important items. NCHC’s strategic plan now includes a provision for board members to venture out into the communities served by Northland and educate the public on what FQHCs do and why they are so vital to local communities.

Once he got the board engaged, Patrick then turned his attention to NCHC executive staff. He implemented many of the same activities- discussing NACHC issues and action alerts monthly, and having the COO and outreach staff join him at community events, like fundraisers and parades, to raise NCHC’s visibility in the community. Patrick has also worked hard to form community partnerships and foster productive relationships with other organizations. When NCHC expanded to open a medical and dental site in Minot, ND earlier this year (thanks to a New Access Point grant), Patrick and his staff put together a 15-minute presentation and visited public health offices and VA facilities among others to not only introduce Northland to the community, but also talk about the Health Center Funding Cliff and its impact on more than just FQHCs.

When Patrick started in 2012, NCHC was about ten years old and experiencing some friction with local hospitals and rural health clinics, all of whom fight for patients. “They didn’t know how to work together,” he said. “But in promoting who we [FQHCs] are, what we do, and why we do it- including telling them about some of the challenges that we’re facing, like the funding cliff, and how they might be impacted, as well- relationships among the major providers have definitely improved in the last year and a half.” He goes on to say that the hospitals, rural health clinics, and FQHCs in the area now meet quarterly to discuss how best to collaborate to serve the community.

Patrick’s work at Northland serves as a great example of how to build a culture of advocacy at Health Centers and beyond. By engaging his board and staff, advocacy has become an institutional priority, and something that people expect to take part in when they get involved with NCHC.

Great work, Patrick, and congratulations on being our January 2015 Outstanding Advocate!

 

Do you know an Outstanding Advocate who deserves this recognition? Let us know! Email Elizabeth Kwasnik at ekwasnik@nachc.org.

 

Spotlight: ALP Master of Advocacy- Bill Wesender

“Spotlight: ALP Masters of Advocacy” is a CFAHC blog series that shines a light on individuals who completed the Advocacy Leadership Program (ALP). Each year the ALP begins at NACHC’s Policy & Issues Forum continues throughout the year via advocacy educational webinars and an ALP Advocacy Project. Participants learn from both NACHC Advocacy Staff and each other how to develop and hone their advocacy skills in order to build advocacy capacity and develop a robust network on the ground in their communities. These blog articles feature the creative and successful advocacy work completed by some graduates of the ALP.

Today, we’re hearing from Bill Wesender, 2014 ALP Master of Advocacy, regarding his work on the Access is the Answer campaign at Aunt Martha’s.

Bill_HeadshotAunt Martha’s is a large community-based agency serving families and youth in the Chicago area and rural Illinois. When I returned from the NACHC Policy & Issues Forum in Washington, DC in the spring of 2014, the Health Division was engaged both in streamlining clinic service delivery procedures and bringing the electronic records system to nineteen clinics, as well as to administrative offices, across the state. Realizing how devastating a 70% cut to their funding would be if Congress doesn’t fix the Health Center Funding Cliff, especially with all of the projects being undertaken, Marsha Conroy, Director of Advocacy and Policy, presented NACHC’s Access is the Answer campaign to senior management using the Grassroots Action Center to generate messages to Members of Congress and collect petition signatures efficiently.

I went to five clinic sites, identified by our medical staff, multiple times over two weeks, asking patients in the waiting rooms to sign the petition. I also asked several community service groups to sign the petition, and eventually gathered over 500 signatures. Many stories were shared along the journey, several volunteers were identified for the agency, and I gained a better feeling for what it’s like in waiting areas.

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Rep. Adam Kinzinger visits Aunt Martha’s during NHCW 2014. L to R: Rep. Kinzinger, Bill Wesender, Marsha Conroy, Heather Foster (NACHC) and Raul Garza. Photo courtesy of Aunt Martha’s.

Marsha Conroy regularly invites elected officials and community members to visit our clinics. We were fortunate to have Representatives Bill Foster and Adam Kinzinger visit our sites during National Health Center Week this year. Using the NACHC literature in conjunction with our new publication, “Cutting-edge. Care. Coordination.”, we discussed the Health Center Funding Cliff and how it would impact our services and their constituents. They were both great visits and reflect bipartisan support for resolving the crisis in 2015. At the time of this writing, eight Members of Congress from Illinois have signed the support letters NACHC has circulating in both the House and Senate, which is a great conclusion of this phase of the advocacy campaign.

[UPDATE: At the close of the sign-on period for the support letters, 18 of the 20 members of IL’s congressional delegation had signed on.]

Bill Wesender

Former Board President, Aunt Martha’s & Health Center Advocate

Congratulations, Bill, on completing the Advocacy Leadership Program and being one of our 2014 Masters of Advocacy!