Tyler Clark and Layza Lopez-Love: February 2016 Outstanding Advocates

layza and tyler_HAPNACHC’s advocacy team is excited to announce the Outstanding Advocates for February 2016, Tyler Clark and Layza Lopez-Love from Community Clinic in Sprindgale, Arkansas. Community Clinic is a NACHC Hispanic Advocacy Project (HAP) site, and Layza and Tyler head up advocacy efforts for that program. Their work to engage the community and bring patients and community members into the Health Center fold is a great example of how advocacy is not one-size-fits-all, and shows how Health Centers can be creative and innovative in this space.

Tyler B. Clark is the Community Development Director at Community Clinic in Springdale, and has worked as a senior leader in the non-profit sector for over a decade. He has experience with program development, government relations, strategic planning, grant writing, fundraising, grant management and media/public relations. Prior to his position at Community Clinic, Tyler worked at the Jones Center for Families and Credit Counseling of Arkansas.  He is also an enthusiastic volunteer and board member for several local organizations including the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Children’s Safety Center, Komen Ozark, Springdale Chamber of Commerce and Open Avenues.  Be sure to follow him on Twitter: @TClarkNPO

Layza Lopez-Love is the Outreach Team Lead at Community Clinic in Springdale. Prior to her position at Community Clinic, Layza worked for Youth Policy Institute in Los Angeles where she managed an after school program in the inner city. These two positions have allowed her to interact directly with Latino/a communities, which is something that she is greatly passionate about. Layza graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA with a double major in Sociology and Chicano/a Studies.

With their collective experience, working to make Community Clinic a HAP site was a natural fit for Tyler and Layza and Community Clinic. NACHC’s Hispanic Advocacy Project is specifically designed for Hispanic individuals and families, who make up approximately 35% of the total Health Center patient population. The goal of the HAP is to engage and organize Hispanic communities around Health Centers to participate in advocacy and civic engagement.

The activities that Tyler and Layza have undertaken as part the HAP are aimed at two Health Center constituencies: staff and patients. For staff, they organized a pledge drive, which encouraged Community Clinic’s employees to sign up for the first time or recommit themselves as advocates with NACHC. In addition to action alerts and other advocacy emails, they also receive communications in Spanish, like the weekly newsletter “El Defensor Semanal.”

For patients, the goal was not just to engage them in advocacy, but in the Health Center more broadly. They translated the main Community Clinic Facebook page into Spanish, and organized a patient pledge drive, similar to that which they did for staff. In addition to signing folks up to be advocates and receive communications in Spanish, they also provided an opportunity for people to anonymously share their story about why and how Community Clinic is so important to them/in their lives. Story collection is a great way to showcase the value of Health Centers, both to the community and Members of Congress. Perhaps the most innovative program they’ve established is in partnership with their local school district’s Family Literacy Program, where they introduce advocacy to area parents.

CEO Kathy Grisham says of Tyler and Layza’s work: “Community Clinic’s outreach team has done an excellent job of engaging the community that serves our Hispanic members. Community Clinic has always worked to help our partners in the community understand the importance of engaging the Hispanic community by using brochures in their language and addressing programs in their language. Tyler and Layza went a step further when they worked with the management level of the schools where we operate school based health centers to engage the Principals and teachers to understand the issues impacting our Health Center and their school based health center to provide a patient voice for these needs.”

The activities Tyler and Layza have undertaken through their participation in the HAP have allowed them to make Community Clinic just that—part of the community—by showing how Health Centers provide so much more than just primary medical care and how partnerships with other local organizations can be mutually beneficial! Thank you Tyler and Layza for all your hard work! We look forward to seeing more great things from Community Clinic in the future.

 

Interested in learning more about the HAP and how your Health Center can become a designated site? Email Alex Harris at aharris@nachc.org. Do you know an Outstanding Advocate who deserves this recognition? Let us know! Email Elizabeth Kwasnik at ekwasnik@nachc.org.

 

Emily Fetterhoff: January 2016 Outstanding Advocate

NACHC’s advocacy team is excited to announce the Outstanding Advocate for January 2016, Emily Fetterhoff, Director of Communications & Advocacy at HRHCare Community Health.

Since joining HRHCare more than five years ago, Emily has worn many hats at HRHCare. Prior to her current role in Communications, she held positions in Advocacy, Special Projects for the CEO, and Community Initiatives. She was introduced to Community Health Centers as an AmeriCorps Community HealthCorps volunteer, where she gained invaluable experience working directly with special populations including migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families, new immigrants, people living in public housing, and people who are homeless. Emily has a wide range of experience in marketing and communications, business development support, outreach, event planning, program development & implementation, and patient engagement. She also worked on the health care reform campaign in 2009 with Health Care for America NOW. Emily studied Health Policy and Administration at the Pennsylvania State University and completed the Geiger-Gibson Fellowship in Community Health Policy and Leadership at George Washington University.

With such extensive experience in the health care world, it’s no wonder Emily is so passionate about the Health Center movement and a driving force behind HRHCare’s advocacy efforts.

During the advocacy push to fix the Health Center Funding Cliff, Emily and her colleague, Nick Cannell, created impactful videos to engage Health Center advocates to call on their Members of Congress to find a solution. Incredibly creative and at times lighthearted, the videos address the serious challenge Health Centers were facing, and do a great job of bringing the message home that access to health care through Health Centers is the answer. HRHCare’s innovative approach to advocacy

Check out HRHCare’s videos on Youtube:

Emily took her efforts a step further in recent months, drawing on her experience working with special populations; she and the HRHCare advocacy team have established an advocacy initiative to engage the Spanish-speaking population in HRHCare’s service area. A designated site as part of NACHC’s Hispanic Advocacy Project, HRHCare provides special programming and materials/support to Hispanic patients and community members in order to help them understand and engage with issues impacting Health Centers that need a patient voice. In the coming year, HRHCare will be launching an exciting new look for this program, an enhanced section on their website, and email subscription list to further engage with Spanish-speaking advocates.

EF1HRHCare CEO, Anne Nolon, says of Emily: “She is an effective, dedicated, emerging leader who believes in our mission and is integral to our Health Center advocacy agenda. For HRHCare, this job is a big one because our geography is so extensive. We have 10 Senators and Representatives in Washington and 40 in the New York State Legislature and Emily carries out organizing our advocacy efforts working with NACHC and CHCANYS [Community Health Center Association of New York State] to coordinate our health center grassroots efforts. She does a tremendous job. We are so proud of her selection as January’s NACHC Advocate!”

Thank you, Emily, for all of your hard work and efforts to keep advocacy moving forward at HRHCare and beyond!

 

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

Meet Nicole Reed, Advocacy’s Spring Intern

nreedNicole Reed, Spring Intern for Federal Affairs & Grassroots Advocacy

Even though Nicole just joined the NACHC team, she is ready to hit the ground running to learn as much as possible about advocacy, Health Centers, and health policy. Nicole is from Broken Bow, Oklahoma, and is currently a senior at Oklahoma State University, where she is majoring in Health Education and Promotion with an emphasis in Exercise Science.

During her studies at Oklahoma State, she has been actively involved in mental health advocacy and research. Additionally, she has remained actively involved on campus, ranging from involvement in the Cowboy Marching Band, Alpha Xi Delta and as a Peer Health Educator for OSU’s Department of Wellness.

Outside of her academic life, Nicole enjoys doing anything that involves the outside world (hiking, fishing, running, etc.), photography and reading.  In her free time (what little free time she has!), she enjoys visiting local coffee shops and listening to live music.

We are so excited to have Nicole supporting our team, as well as Federal Affairs, as our spring advocacy intern! To contact Nicole, email nreed@nachc.org.

Get to Know the NACHC Advocacy Team

Let’s get to know each other!

You get emails from us and hear us on webinars, but how well do you know the NACHC advocacy team? As we kick off the new year, we want to get to know you better. We want to hear about what your Health Center’s working on, what your advocacy best practices are, and how our team can help support your work. So, we’ll get the ball rolling. Below is a little bit about our team. And remember, we’re available by phone, email, Facebook, and Twitter – give us a shout sometime!

Amanda Pears Kelly, National Advocacy Director

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Amanda joined the NACHC staff in 2005. Right from the start, Amanda was taken with and inspired by the passion and commitment of seemingly everyone she encountered in the Health Center world – a great departure from her previous work as a contract lobbyist for the “dark side” in her old stomping grounds of New England. After receiving a crash course in all things Health Center – along with a seemingly unending list of acronyms to memorize – she quickly fell in love with grassroots advocacy and the Health Center Movement.

As National Advocacy Director, Amanda leads the strategy, development, coordination, and management of NACHC’s federal, state and local advocacy campaigns. In addition, Amanda provides technical assistance and consultation to state Primary Care Associations, Health Center Controlled Networks and Health Centers on policy issues and advocacy strategy. While she enjoys just about all elements of her job, some favorite programs and initiatives under her purview include National Health Center Week, providing onsite advocacy trainings, and cross division/department work at NACHC.

Outside of work, Amanda spends most of her time partaking in the adventures of her nearly 3 year old son and his best friend (and giant dog) “Peanut”. Amanda adores spending time with her family, is an avid runner, loves to travel, and when not “adventuring”, can often be found reading and writing creatively. In an alternate life, she might have chosen to become a race car driver – her current driving record sadly supports this aspiration, though the last couple years have been ticket free! Be sure to follow her on Twitter: @HCAdvocateAPK!

Elizabeth Kwasnik, Manager of Grassroots Advocacy

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Elizabeth joined NACHC in 2014 after managing the grassroots program at the Parkinson’s Action Network for four years. Not your typical DC policy wonk, Elizabeth discovered her interest in the nonprofit world after deciding against applying to medical school and volunteering at a free clinic in Yorktown, VA. After earning a degree in Neuroscience from The College of William & Mary (go Tribe!), she moved to DC for grad school at George Washington University, studying forensic science. It was during grad school that she more or less happened upon advocacy, and got hooked.

At NACHC, Elizabeth oversees the Key Contact Program along with the (new!) ACE Program, and works on advocate recognition efforts as well as increasing clinician involvement in advocacy. With the country divided up among the team into geographic regions, Elizabeth serves as the primary point of contact on all things advocacy for: the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.

When she’s not at the office, Elizabeth enjoys cooking/baking (and idolizing Ina Garten), taking her pup Zoe to the dog park, and crafting. In a previous life, she worked at a winery and loves red wine. In fact, if she won the lottery, she’d move to Napa and buy a vineyard. She is currently training for a century bike ride (100mi), and you can either find her at brunch or the library on the weekends.

Alex Harris, Manager of Grassroots Advocacy for Special Populations

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Alex moved from Carrboro, NC to Washington, DC nearly three years ago to join NACHC’s grassroots advocacy team. As the Grassroots Advocacy Manager for Special Populations, Alex works with health centers and primary care associations to strategize around engaging patients and community members from diverse backgrounds and cultures in advocacy and civic engagement. Alex speaks Spanish and works to provide health centers with resources and materials to engage Latino patients in grassroots advocacy via the Hispanic Advocacy Project. She also serves as the primary point of contact for health centers and PCAs in the Mid-Atlantic region (New Jersey down to South Carolina + Arkansas).

Prior to joining NACHC Alex worked at the North Carolina Community Health Center Association while earning a Master of Science in Public Health from UNC (go heels!). A native of Richmond, VA and a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, Alex is incredibly passionate about addressing social determinants of health both globally and within communities across the country. She is also incredibly passionate about the right of every individual to tell their story and the power that story has to create positive, lasting change. When she’s not at the office, you’ll find Alex on the hunt for the best donut in DC, reading a good book, at a slow-flow yoga class, or binge-watching Netflix shows with her husband. Be sure to follow her on Twitter: @AlexGrayHarris!

Dorian Wanzer, Manager of Grassroots Advocacy Outreach & Communications

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Dorian joined NACHC at the start of the Policy & Issues Forum in March 2015. A lover of social media, health policy, and social justice, she felt right at home with the NACHC advocacy team. Dorian has a wide range of experience in the nonprofit world, having worked for organizations like the Smithsonian Institution, Communities In Schools, and The United Way.  Dorian is from Greensboro, North Carolina, and attended Elon University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science. Additionally, she holds a Master of Public Administration Degree from Rutgers.

At NACHC, Dorian is responsible for managing social media and web communications to expand the Grassroots Advocacy Network and increase the impact of Community Health Center advocacy. She is also the boots on the ground for the southeast region of the United States, which includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

Even when Dorian is not at the office, it’s likely you will catch her perusing Facebook, Twitter, and her favorite… Instagram. She is a #loverofsocialmedia for both personal use and Health Center advocacy. Dorian also enjoys thrift shopping, fashion magazines, Caribbean music, travel, and taking walks. Be sure to follow her on Twitter: @DorianWanzer!

Health Center Advocacy: A Year in Review

Health Center Advocates Make the Access is the Answer Campaign a Success

Without a doubt,  Health Center Advocates’ greatest victory in 2015 was their successful fight against the health center funding cliff via the Access is the Answer campaign. Health Center Advocates engaged over 4,300 local elected officials and community partners in the Access is the Answer campaign by asking them to write letters of support. Nearly 11,000 health center staff signed similar letters, and over 200,000 individuals across the United States stood up for health centers by signing the Access is the Answer petition. But those efforts were just the beginning. Health Center Advocates kept raising the advocacy bar, taking even more action to ensure the success of the Health Center Program for the next 50 years by publishing Op-Eds in local newspapers and passing board resolutions in support of the Access is the Answer campaign. In a final incredible show of advocacy action Health Center Advocates generated nearly 25,000 phone calls to Congress to demand action to fix the funding cliff.

This incredible show of advocacy action for the Health Center Program and the patients served by Health Centers made Congress pay attention. In April, Congress passed H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), containing language that successfully averted the health center funding cliff for two years and continued funding for the National Health Service Corps and Teaching Health Centers Program – two programs essential to the Health Center Program.

In the final hours, when Congress was deciding whether to fix the Health Center funding cliff or wait until the last minute, Members of Congress paraded to the floor  in both the U.S. House and Senate and repeatedly cited Health Centers as one of the reasons they had decided to vote YES to pass this important legislation. These comments and YES votes were not accidental – they were a result of tens of thousands of advocates taking action via the Access is the Answer campaign to make the case for Health Centers and the critical need to fix the cliff. The power of Health Center Advocacy has never been more real or recognizable!

Health Centers’ Engage Their Diverse Communities in Advocacy and Civic Engagement  

In keeping with the community and consumer driven Health Center Model, in 2015 the NACHC advocacy department launched the Hispanic Advocacy Program (HAP). Through the HAP, Hispanic Advocates have attended advocacy webinars and participated in interactive advocacy trainings at health center conferences, all conducted in Spanish. In 2015 Health Center Advocates were able to engage their Spanish-speaking colleagues, patients, and communities at large in health center advocacy using NACHC translated advocacy materials ranging from social media images and videos to translated Access is the Answer templates. An initial local partner group of seven health centers began participating in the HAP as official HAP sites, assisting NACHC in developing new and innovative ways to reach their communities and engage them in advocacy on a range of important issues. As we look ahead to 2016, the NACHC advocacy team is excited to continue growing the HAP, to engage more Health Centers, and to find new ways to support the work health centers do to engage the increasingly diverse communities health centers serve in advocacy.

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Representative Steve Knight posted photos after visiting Santa Clarita Valley Health Center during National Health Center Week 2015.

Advocates Conquer Social Media, #AccessistheAnswer #NHCW15

This year Health Centers, primary care associations, and individual advocates alike took their advocacy online and created a powerful voice in support of health centers. Throughout the year, Advocates were tweeting, posting, and sharing content all over the internet in support of the amazing work health centers do. This year #AccessistheAnswer generated nearly 1 million impressions, meaning nearly 1 million individuals on Twitter received Tweets in their newsfeeds containing Access is the Answer’s official campaign hashtag, #AccessistheAnswer. Online activity also skyrocketed during this year’s National Health Center Week celebration, generating nearly 45 million impressions with #NHCW15!

Many Members of Congress have already engaged with health centers via their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Why does this matter? A recent report entitled #Social Congress 2015 found that less than 30 posts on a Members’ social media account can grab that Member’s attention on an issue. In an increasingly digital world, Health Center Advocates’ online presence and influence is not only an incredibly powerful political tool, it is becoming a necessity for continued relevance.

Celebrating Our Legacy, Shaping Our Future – National Health Center Week 2015

Advocates truly went above and beyond during NHCW 2015 by hosting celebrations fitting of Health Centers’ 50th Anniversary, organizing countless health fairs, Congressional visits, and other events, and making 2015 a record year for NHCW participation and celebrations. This year over 65 Members of Congress and countless state and local elected officials visited health centers as part of NHCW 2015. 30 states, counties, and other localities official proclaimed August 9th-15th, 2015 National Health Center Week as did President Obama in a proclamation for the sixth consecutive year. HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Health Center Program Founding Father, Dr. Jack Geiger, showed their support for health centers by participating in a national TeleForum in honor of NHCW. In turn, Health Center Advocates across the country showed their support by Tweeting and re-tweeting, generating nearly 8,000 unique Tweets and nearly 45 million impressions on Twitter.

Advocacy Leaders Continue to Shine

Every year leaders in the Health Center Advocacy Network continue to go above and beyond the call of duty in their fight to protect and grow the health center program. This year, NACHC advocacy recognized several of these advocacy leaders via the Outstanding Advocate initiative.

This year’s Outstanding Advocates include:

NACHC’s advocacy team also continues to recognize those health centers and individuals that showed their support for the Access is the Answer campaign by consistently participating in its action steps via Access All-Stars. Keep an eye out on the Campaign for America’s Health Centers blog for more Access All-Stars.

Finally, a new class of NACHC’s Advocacy Leadership Program completed the rigorous advocacy training and culminating advocacy project this September. These ALP alum, along with alums from previous years, continue to multiply the voice of the Health Center Movement in the communities they serve by organizing and mobilizing their colleagues, Boards, and patients alike. Take a look at the graduates of the 2015 ALP program here.

The Health Center Movement was truly a force to be reckoned with throughout 2015, but the work of a Health Center Advocate is never complete. As health centers continue to serve more patients through increasingly innovative models of care, the strength of their advocacy voice at all levels of government will only become more necessary for continued support and success.

The 50 year legacy of success of the Health Center Program was built by a passionate group of Health Center Advocates, that stood up, took action, and fought tirelessly to ensure those in need had access to high quality, affordable care, regardless of ability to pay.  As we begin the next chapter in the next 50 years of the Program, Health Center Advocates will continue to represent the next generation of passionate voices and actions on behalf of America’s Health Centers and the patients they serve. It is that VOICE and commitment to Health Center Advocacy that will determine the future of this great Program. And we, the NACHC Advocacy Team, look forward to being by your side each step of the way.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2016.

The NACHC Advocacy Team,

Amanda Pears Kelly – Director of National Advocacy & Civic Engagement

Alex Harris – Grassroots Advocacy Manager of Special Populations

Elizabeth Kwasnik – Grassroots Advocacy Manager

Dorian Wanzer – Grassroots Advocacy Manager of Communications & Outreach

 

 

ACCESS ALL-STARS BLOG: CALIFORNIA

Each week, the CFAHC blog will feature Access All-Stars from each state who exemplify stellar advocacy action and commitment to grassroots advocacy efforts as part of the Access is the Answer Campaign. This week, we learn about the excellent work of our All-Stars from the state of California. The advocates listed below played a crucial role in the effort to fix the cliff by providing ongoing advocacy leadership in their communities and effectively communicating the value of Health Centers to lawmakers and beyond.

California’s Access All-Stars

FHCNFamily HealthCare Network

Visalia, CA

Family HealthCare Network’s team truly went above the call of duty in their Access is the Answer efforts! They went out into the community to collect petition signatures – garnering nearly 16,000 petition signatures from staff, patients, and community members in central California. In order to stress the importance of each individual’s signature and the pride they should take in their advocacy, they distributed bilingual stickers to each petition signer. They didn’t ignore the role their staff could play in the campaign – they collected over 500 signed letters of support from FHCN staff addressed to their Members of Congress. The advocates at FHCN are tireless – kudos to them for such incredible participation in Access is the Answer!


Ampla HealthAmpla

Yuba City, CA

Staff at Ampla Health’s 12 sites worked tireless to collect petition signatures from staff and patients. In total, they collected over 6,600 petition signatures! A special shout-out goes to Ampla Health’s outreach worker, Irma Leal, for organizing the petition drive at each Ampla Health site, driving sometimes hours at a time to collect signatures, and taking a petition with her to the fields as she conducted outreach in the central valley’s farmworker communities.  

 

ClinicaClinica Sierra Vista

Fresno, CA

Clinica Sierra Vista continuously spread the word about the Access is the Answer campaign. They were able to collect a total of 4,500 petition signatures and 50 letters of support from community leaders and local elected officials in the Fresno area.

 

 

Asian Health Services

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Oakland, CA

Asian Health Services was an active participant in several Access is the Answer phases. Not only did they collect over 1,100 petition signatures, they also leveraged their support within the health center and the community at-large to collect more than 200 staff letters of support and 20 community leader and local elected official letters of support.

 

Erika Martinez: November 2015 Outstanding Advocate

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NACHC’s advocacy team is excited to announce the Outstanding Advocate for November 2015, Erika Martinez, Grassroots Coordinator at the Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers (AACHC). Erika has worked hard, thought creatively, and has gone above and beyond in her efforts to ramp up Arizona’s participation and activity as part of NACHC’s Access is the Answer campaign.

Erika joined AACHC in June 2014, and brought with her experience in community outreach, as well as marketing, brand management, and media relations. She has a passion for creating an impact in her community, and does so not only in her role as Grassroots Coordinator, but also through volunteer work with various local organizations.

Erika is a graduate of the 2015 Advocacy Leadership Program, where her final advocacy project focused on taking lessons learned from NACHC’s Hispanic Advocacy Program training at Sunset Community Health Center in southwestern AZ, and helping other health centers engage their Spanish-speaking patients and staff. Providing culturally-competent advocacy resources not only mirrors the broader health center mission, but also allows for more advocates to speak up and make their voices heard.

Erika also uses social media to advocate by raising the profile of health centers and spread the word about Access is the Answer. Recently, she participated as a panelist on a national webinar (conducted in Spanish) about the power of social media and some of the guidelines health centers should follow when engaging in advocacy online.

In an effort to increased overall engagement on federal issues among AACHC’s member health centers, Erika, along with Chief External Affairs Officer, Tara McCollum Plese, is working hard to identify barriers to advocacy engagement and remove or lower them as much as possible.

Most recently, to reinforce NACHC & Health Center messaging, and to ramp up energy and participation from Arizona’s Community Health Centers on the latest menu of action steps for Access is the Answer, Erika created a short video laying out the different action items in simple terms. Easier on the eyes than paragraphs of text, the video is a creative way to reach advocates.

AACHC AITA video

AACHC CEO John McDonald says of Erika, “It is a delight for any CEO to see a young professional’s job performance exceed his or hers wildest dreams and expectations; and so it is for me with Erika. She is creative, dedicated, and performance driven when it comes to supporting AACHC’s grassroots advocacy efforts with our health center members. Erika is graceful in her approach to engaging members and public officials. She has truly captured the attention of all of us who understand the importance of advocacy including Tara Plese, Chief External Affairs Officer, whom she works with daily.”

Thank you, Erika, for your active commitment to health center advocacy and for your hard work to engage and educate AACHC’s members and patients and for your efforts on the Access is the Answer campaign!

 

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

Access All-Stars: ARIZONA

ACCESS ALL-STARS BLOG: ARIZONA

On an ongoing basis, the CFAHC blog will feature Access All-Stars from each state who exemplify stellar advocacy action and commitment to grassroots advocacy efforts as part of the Access is the Answer Campaign. This week, we learn about the excellent work of our All-Stars from the state of Arizona. The advocates listed below played a crucial role in the effort to fix the cliff by providing advocacy leadership in their communities and effectively communicating the value of Health Centers to lawmakers and beyond.

Arizona’s Access All-Stars:

North Country HealthCare ramped up efforts on Access is the Answer by far surpassing NACHC’s initial goal of 500 petition signatures, and collecting nearly 800 signatures from staff, patients, and other Health Center advocates! Each person who supported the petition and committed to Health Centers by signing helped make passage of HR 2 and continued funding for the next two years a reality!

Desert Senita Community Health Center consistently worked hard to engage their staff and collected letters from many of their employees that were then sent to Members of Congress, explaining the local impact the Health Center Funding Cliff would have had both on Desert Senita’s operations, as well as the lives of its employees. Telling the story of how the cliff would have negatively impacting local communities was a crucial part of getting the cliff fixed.

Marana Health Center engaged a third constituency in the Access is the Answer campaign: their Board of Directors. Marana’s board composed a letter to their Members of Congress asking them to take action. The letter highlighted the services provided by Marana to the community, detailed cost savings afforded by Health Centers to the entire health care system, and the impact the cliff would have had in terms of site closures and patients who would lose access to care. Health Centers are local economic engines, and as such, Members of Congress need to hear from those who govern and oversee our Health Centers!

Sun Life Family Health Center contributed to the Access is the Answer campaign by having their board sign a letter, collecting over 100 petition signatures, and took the campaign a step farther by reaching out to the community at large. Sun Life collected local support letters from other groups and organizations that spoke to the value the Health Center brings to the community, and not just in terms of direct services provided. Health Centers enrich communities and reinvest money into the local economy, and part of painting the picture of why Health Centers are a worthwhile investment and need continued funding is hearing from partners who work with Health Centers in a business capacity or are like-minded in terms of mission and can work together to build healthier communities.

It is worth noting that the four Health Centers highlighted above focused in on different Access is the Answer action items that they felt they could execute most successfully and that worked in their communities- the result was a variety of constituencies being successfully engaged across the state. The chorus of support in hearing from multiple stakeholders in the Health Center movement is what ultimately led to success in getting the cliff fixed for the next two years! Thank you North Country, Desert Senita, Marana, and Sun Life for your advocacy efforts!