Tips for Getting Your Voice Heard

Establish and maintain relationships with your elected officials.

Invite your Congressman to visit your health center. Meet with them in Washington. Make sure they know what your health center does for the community, and the challenges it faces. Suggest what they can do. Follow up. Thank them. Keep them updated on the results of their support. Help publicize their support for health centers. Regular written communication provides a concrete reminder of your interest, your identity, and your issues. Send letters. Send faxes. Send e-mail. Provide talking points on key issues. Let them know about your annual report, new board members, and special events.

Establish and maintain relationships with staff of elected officials.

Get to know the people who work in the offices of your representatives. Bring both district and Washington staff to your health center. Teach district staff about the importance of health centers in your community and offer to help with constituent casework. Help Washington staff understand how policy affects your center. Stay current on legislative activity, and be willing and prepared to testify. Follow up. Say “thanks.”

Attend town meetings to build local public awareness

Town meetings are often the forum where the community’s most active and influential members meet to discuss and decide key issues. So, make sure your health center is part of the discussion. Bring patients, board members and staff to town meetings. Let them speak from personal experience about the benefits of care provided at the health center. Speak out about local health issues and how your health center is helping.

Develop and execute a strong local media outreach effort

A well-conceived media plan can help your health center raise its visibility in the public mind. Develop relationships with local reporters. Make sure they know who to contact for news about health centers. Provide them story ideas. Invite them to health fairs and special events. Ask media personalities to speak at fundraisers and other public events. Write letters to the editor, and encourage your patients to do so as well. When an elected official does something important for health centers, thank them publicly through the press.

Be active in your state primary care association and NACHC.

Amplify your voice through your associations. Bring up issues facing your health center and act in concert with other centers. You can triple the impact of your message when your concerns are raised at the state and national level.