Walking through the halls of the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, where the NACHC CHI and EXPO is underway, is like dropping in on a family reunion. Nearly 2,000 health center professionals are filling the halls and meeting rooms, greeting each other like old friends after a long two years of fighting a pandemic in underserved communities all over America. The NACHC CHI is where they recharge and collect important information and tools to take back home and inform their work. Community Health Centers are a movement first and foremost; their sustainability over the course of the past 55 years comes from gathering and reaffirming their mission of health equity.
Saturday’s pre-conference sessions focused on the essential role of Community Health Center Boards and their areas of responsibility and oversight in an increasingly complex health care environment — also known as Board Member Boot Camp. Health center patients have an important role on board governance. Every health center must have a 51 percent patient majority board and every voice is important. Speaking of voices, there was also a lot of activity around health center advocacy, particularly as the low-cost prescription 340B program confronts a multitude of assaults from the pharmaceutical industry. CHI is where health center leaders — doctors, nurses, pharmacists, board members and other professionals — band together, strategize, network and chart out a course of action for what will be a challenging year.
On Sunday, the conference agenda is packed with education sessions on wide-ranging topics, such as “Elevating Health Center Performance Through Innovative Models of Care,” “The Current State of 340B” and “Using Technology to Engage and Understand Your Patients.”
The afternoon will be capped by the General Session, featuring remarks by CBS Sunday Morning Anchor and longtime broadcast journalist Jane Pauley. A familiar face on television, one of broadcasting’s most respected journalists and host of CBS Sunday Morning, Pauley is praised by audiences for her relatable and personal inspirational message. She is also a highly regarded advocate for mental health, children’s health, and education issues. Prior to anchoring on CBS, Pauley had a 13-year career on NBC’s TODAY program and was also a co-host of Dateline NBC for more than a decade. We are also looking forward to the EXPO Hall opening, with a host of exhibitors and gathering under one roof. And attendees should make time to see the Poster Presentations in the Riverside Exhibit Hall, showcasing research and innovation in the health center field.
The NACHC CHI runs through Tuesday and we’ll try to keep you up to date what’s happening. You can also follow the CHI experience on social media with the #NACHCEvents hashtag.