National Health Center Week Travels in Idaho and Washington

I had the opportunity to visit 5 health centers during National Health Center Week 2012 (NHCW).  Braving hot temps and late nights (I had to stay up to watch the Olympics, of course), here is an account of this year’s travels…

Beginning in Boise, Idaho, I enjoyed the opportunity to tour 2 of Terry Reilly Health Services’ sites with Ann Sandven, MPH, RD, Chief Development Officer.  The history captured at this health center is quite impressive, from a life-size wall mural to pictures of Dr. Bob LeBow’s travels around the world.  You can read all about the story of this health center here.

Denise A. Langston-Groves, Executive Director, and Sarah Warner, X-Ray Technician and NHCW Coordinator

Next I traveled north to Adams County Health Center, located in Council, Idaho, population 816.  This rural health center serves as the health care provider for the entire county and it was evident from their National Health Center Week event that they have built strong community connections and are appreciated by all.  Sarah Warner, RNA, X-Ray Technician, did an incredible job coordinating their event, which included 21 vendors for the health fair.

As I continued traveling north, the temperature hit 109’F, about 30 degrees warmer than where I live, but thankfully there were beautiful clear skies as I continued my visits.  Next stop: Spokane, Washington.

NHCW banner at CHAS outside their Denny Murphy Clinic

I met Katie Kolbet and Kelley McDonald, CHAS’ communication team, at the health center’s Denny Murphy Clinic, located in downtown Spokane.  For me, Health Center Week is not only a great time to celebrate, but also to meet the people “behind the scenes”. After having talked with Katie on the phone and by email since last year, it was great to meet her in-person!  I had reached out to Katie in November after having read some of her Facebook posts; CHAS does fantastic work with social media – check out their efforts here.  For NHCW the health center provided information and snacks for patients and the day I visited they had a lunch for all health center staff to celebrate and recognize their hard work.

From Spokane, I headed west to Yakima, Washington, where I met up with Yakima Neighborhood Health Services‘ Anita Monoian, health center CEO and NACHC’s Immediate Past Chair, Rhonda Hauff, COO, and Amy Gaulke, Communications Manager.  As I was driving into town I heard advertisements for the health fair on the radio by the local station that was live broadcasting from the event.  It was a hot day, but there were sno-cones and hula hooping!  I had the opportunity to congratulate the annual hula hoop contest winners.  They take their hula hooping seriously here! I learned there were try-outs and practices for the teams competing.  Congratulations to the team from nearby health center Community Health of Central Washington for winning the Yakima site’s competition!  If you ever find yourself driving through Yakima, be sure to stop by this health center.  Another great example of health center history, this neighborhood campus is a great tour!  And Anita is a wonderful story teller.

Children’s Music with Marco Cortes at Sea Mar Community Health Services

My last stop of the week was at Sea Mar Community Health Center‘s Marysville, Washington, site.  Staff Rosa Brambila and Daniella Ochoa coordinated an entire week’s worth of events, including Mother-Baby Monday, Tobacco-Free Toothday, Wellness Wednesday, Therapeutic Thursday, and Family Fun Friday, with each day offering health information, activities and giveaways.  I attended Friday’s event and enjoyed viewing the health center’s community garden.  Their dietician did cooking demonstrations, using herbs grown in the garden.  I really enjoyed speaking with staff and listening to the children’s musician.

I hope you were able to enjoy National Health Center Week 2012 as much as I did.  When I wasn’t attending events, I loved watching all of the Health Center Week activity taking place across the country virtually through the hundreds of health center Facebook posts and tweets.  Visit the Campaign For America’s Health Centers’ Facebook page to view some of the posts we shared last week, and you can still view the tweets that took place by going to and searching for #NHCW12.

–Lindsey Ruivivar, Associate Director, National Advocacy, National Association of Community Health Centers

How was your National Health Center Week 2012? Tell us your story here, and don’t forget to submit pictures and video for the National Health Center Week Photo & Video Contest (deadline August 31):


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