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Two More Advocates!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays! I hope you’re reading this from a comfy couch at home or somewhere pleasant on vacation. If you’re reading from your work station, don’t feel alone! It’s ok, because our Partnership office is open too. It feels good to be with my work family, though I’m missing two individuals in particular today- Joseph and Son.

Joseph and Son were the Partnership’s undergraduate interns during this past fall semester. They completed their service last week. Joseph, a student in his senior year came to us via the Communication Studies department in hopes of obtaining communications experience. Son arrived from the university’s prestigious Health Science department, seeking health policy research experience for his final semester. I am grateful to them both for all their help these past few months. In addition to all their internship duties, too countless to name, Son and Joseph were key to the success of our awards event for Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and assisted with the Partnership’s contribution towards the recently published Santa Clara County Vietnamese Health Assessment.

Over the summer, on this blog I posted a report written by another former intern Steve Yang, about community health centers. This gave me the idea to invite Joseph and Son to write an entry for the blog. Their creative task: to share something they’ve learned during their time here at the Partnership. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work alongside these star students; their intellectual curiosity and willingness to learn is inspiring. We are very fortunate to have them as the next generation of health care advocates.

Here are their entries:

Joseph Barton
Communication Studies, San Jose State University

I just had the most amazingly eye-opening semester this past fall. My name is Joseph Barton and I’m a Communication Studies senior at San Jose State University who recently completed a very cool internship at Community Health Partnership. I hate to admit it, as I am in my thirties and have voted regularly since I was eighteen, but I knew little about our existing health care system and the upcoming reforms prior to this semester. Not anymore! The team at CHP took a student looking to possibly get into public relations or maybe marketing, and turned him into someone who actively supports and advocates for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and would now love to work in health care. I’ve learned that community health centers (CHCs) are the backbone of health care in our country today, and I’m very proud to have been involved with CHP. I think everyone who puts their heart and soul into working for a community health center should be extremely proud, too! You guys have gotten so good at doing outreach, connecting people with necessary services, providing care for those who need it most, and being such a valued and important piece of society, that our country’s leaders are basically taking what you’ve done and expanding it to millions of people with the ACA…Bravo!

There is obviously still much work to be done, as the changes that lie ahead won’t necessarily be easy. But I believe the Supreme Court will uphold the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s Individual Mandate and our country will continue in the right direction and ultimately be better equipped to provide the quality health care that everyone deserves. I’m looking to be a part of that now, for sure! But no matter where my career takes me in the future, I will now always vote and advocate as someone now hooked… my eyes are wide open and I’ll forever be a proud supporter of CHCs!

Son Phan
Health Science, San Jose State University

Before I took this internship, I didn’t really see community health centers (CHCs) as places that provided comprehensive and effective care. I always thought it was much better to just go to a hospital or a local doctor’s office to receive care. This is due to the fact that CHCs are located in low-income areas and I felt like they were not as equipped to take care of me. After being an intern at Community Health Partnership, my whole view has changed and I recognize how important CHCs are to the health of our whole nation.

CHCs provide comprehensive and preventative care. This is important because, as proven in several studies, the presence of a community health center in a region has shown to reduce the number of emergency room visits and long-term chronic health problems. If those two problems are reduced, it will save the U.S. a lot of money that we can spend on other things such as education. In fact, about $122 billion in total health care costs would be saved between 2010 and 2015 by CHC’s because of their ability to help reduce costly care such as emergency room visits and their ability to provide care at lower costs. Additionally, with the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it is expected that 32 million more Americans will be provided with health insurance. That is why CHCs play a major role in helping to deliver more efficient care for society by taking on some of the newly insured patients.

Community health centers are important as we move forward with healthcare reform. If we want to provide efficient and quality care for every single individual, CHCs must be in the equation. They provide quality care that could prevent future health problems. Best of all, they are able to do this at a much lower cost. We must continue to provide funding to community health centers and give them the necessary resources to succeed.