A Check-in with Dr. Kyu
January 2024 – Working Together for a Great 2024
“We discussed the importance of Community Health Centers being the
“‘Employer, Provider, and Partner of Choice.'”
I hope everyone reading this took time over the last few weeks to enjoy cherished moments with their family, friends and loved ones during the holiday season. Speaking to the staff here at NACHC, as we are committed to being the “Employer of Choice,” I am grateful for the mission and hard work of our team in 2023 and for taking vacation over the holidays. Research has shown that taking vacation is good for your health. My family and I took this to heart as we travelled together to Taiwan over the winter holidays.
From exploring the night markets to taking cooking classes to seeing the beautiful sights, it was amazing to spend time with our extended family in Taiwan. We are a Community Health Center (CHC) family. My sister-in-law Nancy Ho, is a licensed family and marriage therapist and Director of Clinical Training at Chinatown Service Center 華埠服務中心 and my father-in-law Dr. Raymond Ho served many years as a pediatrician at Asian Pacific Health Care Venture, Inc. We all need vacation for mind, body and soul!
Since my last edition of ‘Check-in With Dr. Kyu,’ I continue to tour the country to meet and connect with various CHC and Primary Care Association (PCA) leaders and staff. I am committed to hearing and learning what you have to say about the needs, challenges, ideas, and successes you encounter in your daily work. This is not just about listening and learning from you, but also mobilizing NACHC and our movement to support what people need out in the field and on the frontlines.
Every one of my visits has been impactful, informative, and inspiring but let me share two visits with you, the reader, to give an idea of just how strong, and connected, of a movement we have. Reflecting on my visit a few weeks ago in Harrisburg, PA and the great state of Pennsylvania, I had the opportunity to spend time with the extraordinary Cheri Rinehart, the President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers (PACHC), and around 40 of their 52 CHC CEOs and leaders. We discussed the strategy and importance of CHCs being the “Employer, Provider, and Partner of Choice” or, as we now say, “EPPOC” and the importance of growing the CHC movement to serve 1 in 3 Americans across our nation.
There are so many things to admire about PACHC and its amazing work and accomplishments under Cheri’s leadership. As I listened to each CHC leader share Cheri’s impact, it was clear she inspired trust in the “community of Community Health Centers.” Cheri is also a creative communicator and has launched a successful communications strategy to encourage CHCs as “Employers and Providers of Choice,” with a “Earn a Living Where Your Heart Is” campaign. She also tapped into the inspiration of Dr. Seuss: “Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and the good health that you’ll see, if a Community Health Center is your choice for care, let’s agree.”
Generating Impact Through Partnerships, Ideas and Engagement
I also made my way to the “Tar Heel State”, where I met with North Carolina Community Health Center Association and CHC leaders and staff. The best moment was when I met a former pediatric patient of mine from Unity Health Care, Nehemiah Stewart, who is now all grown up as a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine MD/PhD student and a consumer board member at Piedmont Health Services Inc! It was amazing to see his growth over the years and to realize that the impact of the Community Health Center Movement can carry forward into future generations.
NACHC is also grateful to work in partnership with the Biden-Harris Administration to advance health equity through CHCs. I had the opportunity to recently sit down with HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSAgov), Administrator Carole Johnson, Associate Administrator for the Bureau of Primary Health Care Jim Macrae, and Associate Administrator for the Bureau of Health Workforce Luis Padilla, M.D., and their amazing teams. Our discussion focused strategies to boost access to affordable acute and chronic disease medications (especially through 340B), and advancing the immunization and prevention of infectious diseases like flu and COVID with the current winter season (with important programs like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Bridge Access Program). Secretary Becerra and I discussed the growth of the program since Secretary Beccera and I met two decades ago when he served the US Congress as a member of the House representing California’s 30th congressional district and I was a volunteer primary care physician and chair of the board at Clínica Monseñor Oscar A. Romero. We talked about our shared commitment to achieve common goals, including lower health care costs and to maximize the number of Americans with high quality and affordable health care coverage.
NACHC is coming off the heels of a very energizing Winter Strategy Meeting, where some of the brightest leaders in the movement gathered to exchange ideas and strategies for CHCs to become the Employer, Provider, and Partner (EPPOC) of Choice and advance health equity through science, education, policy and practice. We’re going to take the formative discussions had on-site in New Orleans to our Policies & Issues Forum and continue the work to ensure that EPPOC and our six Strategic Pillars are at the center of our movement for years to come. That is my vision for our work and the NACHC team will not rest until that is known across all channels.
CHCs should no longer be America’s “best kept secret” and increasingly their accomplishments on the frontlines are drawing media attention. I was grateful for the opportunity to share the remarkable story of CHCs with Associated Press reporter Devi Shastri. Her feature article, “Community health centers serve 1 in 11 Americans. They’re a safety net under stress,” included the valuable insights from key leaders, frontline clinicians, and patients from URBAN HEALTH PLAN, INC. and DELTA HEALTH CENTER INC. It was published in more than 60 media outlets across the country and translated for Spanish-speaking audiences. My hope is that we can continue to work together to educate and engage the media about the urgency of prioritizing funding for CHCs.
As I close out this edition, I want to say THANK YOU to the nearly 1,500 CHCs around the country for providing whole-person care to your communities, regardless of patients’ ability to pay. Health centers reach beyond the exam room every day to prevent illness and address the social and economic drivers that affect patient health and well-being. CHCs are innovators and problem-solvers who do whatever it takes to meet whole health needs.
As many of you may already know from reading our emails, in 2023 we were excited to launch NACHC Select, a wholly owned subsidiary of NACHC that seeks to develop relationships with industry leaders to provide savings and other special offers for the high-quality products and services community health centers need.
Related revenue from NACHC Select is transparently reinvested into NACHC’s advocacy efforts, training and technical assistance, and other resources and programs to advance the health center movement!
At the end of last year, we announced a new partnership between NACHC and CNECT, which will serve as the exclusive group purchasing organization (GPO) of NACHC Select.
CNECT has served community health centers for more than 40 years. CNECT’s team of over 60 employees provides tailored supply chain services and solutions to enhance the financial strength of its members. CNECT members have access to more than 3,700 GPO contracts, including aggregated top-tier discounts, through more than 1,460 suppliers. NACHC is consistently pursuing opportunities to provide trusted solutions that help health centers nationwide care for over 31.5 million patients at more than 15,000 sites. Additional opportunities will be provided when available.
Thanks to everyone who has recently contacted Congress to advocate on behalf of Community Health Centers nationwide! On Thursday, January 18, Congress passed a short-term bill that extended funding for Community Health Centers and primary care workforce programs through March 8.
NACHC appreciates that Congress included health centers and the primary care workforce programs in the short-term legislation. Now it is critical that Congress work toward a bipartisan solution to pass a long-term extension that includes an increase in funding.
We want health centers to be top of mind for policymakers at the local, state and federal levels talking about health care and brought into the rooms where decisions are being made. One major push we’re making in 2024 is to increase the number of health centers designated as “ACEs” – Advocacy Centers of Excellence. This is one way we’re building the capacity of health centers to engage in public policy debates. I encourage all of you to look into it. Get started at HCadvocacy.org.
Nearly $1M in New Resources for NACHC and Health Centers Awarded
NACHC was thrilled to receive a two-year renewal ($700K) from the Leon Lowenstein Foundation for its work supporting health centers exploring delivery of services via mobile health. NACHC has worked with the foundation, the Mobile Healthcare Association, Mobile Health Map, and others to grow the knowledge and resources to support mobile health expansion. Thanks to these additional resources, NACHC plans to hire a full-time staff member focused on mobile health in the first quarter of 2024 and will once again seek to share resources in the forms of subgrants with the field. To date, NACHC has awarded over $150K in grants to health centers and PCAs to support their efforts expanding mobile health.
NACHC renewed its partnership for another three years with the Henry Schein Cares Foundation to support health centers with small cash grants and donated supplies ($300K in cash and supplies). The Prevention is Power Health Care Screening Program, a signature offering of the Henry Schein Cares Foundation, is a multi-year program and each year will focus on the connection between a noncommunicable disease (NCD) and oral health. In 2023, the focus NCD is heart health and hypertension. NACHC is expected to award six NACHC Member Organization health centers with $15K each in cash and supplies later in January.
CEO Goals & Priorities
NACHC continues to be focused on several goals that support our strategic pillars and will better enable us to help you in expanding your impact in the communities you serve, including but not limited to:
- Advocacy: Creating more ACES…learn how your community health center can become one!
- Communications: Increasing engagements and information sharing on social media…we encourage you to join the movement by following NACHC and Dr. Rhee!
- Membership: Enhancing our membership structure…we encourage you to become a member or persuade a nonmember to become a member to support our advocacy and programs.