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Community Health Partnership honors one of our own - Reymundo Espinoza CEO of Gardner Family Health Network

Friday, October 14, 2011

Last week, Community Health Partnership leadership and staff attended the California Primary Care Association’s (CPCA) annual conference held in San Diego.   The Partnership works very closely with the CPCA, as their organization represents and advocates for 800 community health centers and clinics throughout the state.    Like Community Health Partnership, CPCA coordinates research and programs that promote collaboration among its member health centers. 

While every annual CPCA conference is a great occasion to catch up with our fellow consortia and health centers from all over the state, this past conference held special meaning to us.  Community Health Partnership’s Board Co-Chair, Reymundo Espinoza, Chief Executive Officer of Gardner Family Health Network  got inducted as the new Board Chair for CPCA.  Although we will miss Reymundo as our Board Co-Chair next year, we are thrilled about his new role in providing guidance and leadership to our state association. 

As a way of celebrating Reymundo’s induction, Community Health Partnership co-hosted an informal reception with CPCA to mark the occasion.  At the reception, we invited Reymundo to say a few words.  In addition to thanking his wife, health center staff, and colleagues for their support over the years, Reymundo in true leadership fashion took this invitation as an opportunity to remind us of our history of advocacy, the relevance of our work in community health centers, and offered some inspirational advice.  Fortunately for us, we got his speech “on tape.”  Thought we would share.  Enjoy.


National Health IT Week Roundup!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Did you know that last week was National Health IT Week?  This occasion nearly flew below our radar until Penny Mudd, the Partnership’s Health Information Technology Fellow from Health Career Connection brought it to our attention.  Penny is assisting us on a number of our IT projects, including developing an online resource directory for our health center membership.

According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Information Technology, Health Information Technology, better known as “HIT” makes it “possible for health care providers to better manage patient care through secure use and sharing of health information.”  Keeping this in mind, one could imagine how prominent HIT has become in discussions and initiatives for improving health care delivery, especially in the community health center world.  For example, in partnership with the California Health Care Foundation and the California Primary Care Association (CPCA), our health centers are participating in a statewide project called Aligning Quality Improvement in California Clinics for Meaningful Use (AQICC).  The goal of AQICC is to help clinics and health centers prepare for the meaningful use of electronic health records to improve clinical outcomes and operational efficiencies in order to improve the health outcomes of patients and communities throughout California. 

As advocates, designated weeks such as National Health Center Week, or in this case National Health IT Week provide great opportunities for us to share the work that we’re doing (as well as the reasons we’re doing it) with others.  I’m so glad Penny reminded us to mark this occasion.  Here is her roundup of last week’s events:

The 6th Annual National Health IT Week , Sept. 12 -16,   provided  a forum  for 150 public and private health care organizations to come together under one umbrella to raise awareness of the improved health care delivery benefits  and cost savings afforded by use of health IT.    The AMA (American Medical Association) data shows that providers have adopted Meaningful Use compliant Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems at adoption rates that range from 80.2% in Minnesota to 38.1% in the more rural Kentucky. Federal incentives have helped to overcome initial provider resistance.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius kicked off National Health IT Week with the first-ever HHS Consumer Health IT Summit. One of the main events was the launch of an Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), an HHS agency, program to support greater consumer engagement in their own health via information technology use of, a website designed to assist consumers with questions about health care reform and insurance coverage.  This dovetails with the current Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) program – “Care about Your Care”  –  to raise awareness about what patients can do to get better health care. RWJF has partnered with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and 20 other healthcare organizations to mount this effort.

A sample of recent studies that focus on health care delivery benefits via health information technology  (HIT) includes a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine supporting the premise that federal policies encouraging the Meaningful Use of electronic healthcare records improves outcomes for diabetes patients.  A  >30% improvement on standard measurements was recorded as opposed to the same measurements in clinics using paper records.  In another example, the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has finally finished a study of their demonstration project where a disease- management –via- telemedicine product led to lower mortality rates and savings up to $550 per patient per quarter for Medicare patients with various chronic conditions.  Another HIT phenomenon worth paying careful attention to is the explosion of smart phone and iPad use among clinical staff.  Add to that the smart phone’s promise to increase “touches” – the number of contacts between a patient and their healthcare provider - to provide health education and self-monitoring tools. iPhone microphones have already been adapted to listen to a patient’s heartbeat! That’s just the beginning of how smart phones will be used for medical interventions.

HHS, having made consumer empowerment a cornerstone of its health IT policy also announced new proposed rules that would expand the rights of patients to access their health information (records).  The proposed rules would amend the patient privacy provisions of the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) to make a patient an authorized person under Federal law, so  patients could  obtain test result reports directly from labs. Labs covered by HIPAA would provide information, upon request, directly to patients or their personal representatives. 

Community Health Partnership’s increased use of HIT to extend services to underserved populations cannot be separated from the swirl of legislation and market forces that surround healthcare in 2011. Technological advances will continue to outpace the legislation needed to mitigate any negative impacts they might have. The venture capital community will continue to make bets that dramatic (i.e.  effective and widely accepted) breakthroughs in health care technology are possible. Due to the recession, many middle class citizens have joined the traditionally underserved in the limbo of having no private coverage while courts debate the constitutionality of federal health care reform law.

In the middle of these powerful and sometimes opposing forces, the Partnership has affirmed their commitment to medically underserved communities with efforts that are also consistent with the most recent national focus on HIT seen during National Health IT Week.  Community Health Partnership’s plan to boost support to its clinics with clinical data analysis and HIT services to support capacity expansion is one such story. So is our increased training support to help clinics attain Patient Centered Medical Home accreditation and assist with meeting Meaningful Use Stage 1 criteria to insure the clinics maintain their status as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC).

Watch this space for further developments.

A Perspective During National Health Center Week

Friday, August 12, 2011

It’s hard to believe that National Health Center Week is coming to a close!  We’ve been busy with a number of activities, celebrating our member health centers’ work.  As many of you know, these events would not be successful without the assistance of dedicated interns.  One of our policy interns, Steve Yang came to us by way of Vision New America, an organization founded to promote civic participation in underrepresented groups through their public policy internship programs.  Steve is an incoming junior in high school, and prior to joining us for the summer, was not aware of community health centers. 

At the beginning of the summer, as part of planning for National Health Center Week, Steve took it upon himself to read Access Denied: A Look at America’s Medically Disenfranchised.  Like the superstar intern he was, he wrote me a brief report about it.  I hate to admit it, but when he turned his “one-pager” in, I glanced at it, saw it looked satisfactory, and placed it in a stack of reports and files.

Last night, while I was re-organizing my desk, as it had become a mess with all the flurry of activity from this past week, I came across Steve’s report. I decided to give myself a break and took a moment to read it.  As I was reading, a couple of thoughts came to mind.  First, Steve is a much better writer than I ever was in high school.  I was impressed.  But in addition to that, a realization came to me that I had visual “proof” that thanks to his experience here at the Partnership, one more person (a young, bright one who will most likely be a leader one day) now knows and can talk about community health centers. 

As we advocate for health centers and policies that strengthen health care access to the medically underserved, at times the fruit of our labor is not readily noticeable.  That phone call made, that petition signed, that vote cast…sometimes we can see our success immediately, and at other times it’s easy to feel discouraged. 

Fortunately, we have National Health Center Week to remind us to celebrate the importance of our work.  It’s been fantastic seeing the shared events on the Community Health Centers Facebook page, as well as all the #NHCW11 posts on Twitter.   After witnessing and taking part in Health Center Week celebrations in person and online, I feel as if I’m part of a movement that is greater than any words can express. 

And lucky for all of us in the future, we have a new, young adult who will be able to vote in a few years, and speak eloquently about community health centers.  Thanks in part to a report by NACHC, and thanks in part to National Health Center Week.

A few things about Steve: he enjoys learning about politics, government, and history.  He plays a variety of sports, but his main sport currently is golf.  He’s also looking at colleges on both coasts.  He gave me permission to post his report (my week’s inspiration) on this blog entry for you.

Hope you had an excellent week.

             Approximately forty years ago, in 1965, Community, Migrant, Homeless, and Public Housing Health Centers started a pilot project which would create health centers in areas where there were scarce or no doctors present. The goal of these health centers was to improve the access to care for underserved populations so that there will be many more people in the United States who could receive some form of medical care. Because these health centers were placed in areas where there are not many physicians or doctors, statistics have shown that many more of people’s lives have been saved and health costs have gone down.

            Research has been done by the National Association of Community Health Centers and the Robert Graham Center. In the report, “Access Denied: A Look at America’s Medically Disenfranchised”, it states that everywhere in the states there are medically disenfranchised populations. However, because of the health centers being formed, people’s lives have been ameliorated. This effect is caused by the health centers having quality care and preventing many common illnesses from showing up as frequently, such as the flu or the cold. Another positive factor about the health centers is that they are local; so many more people have access to be treated or diagnosed without having to go to different counties or cities.

            Health centers not only help those who look for medical care, but also help those who are financially in trouble. Because of the lower costs to receive treatment, many residents in the area can afford to go to these medical homes. Also, health centers lower the costs of many people’s medical bills. Before health centers started to appear around the country, people became sick because of preventable illnesses. As a result, those in need went to the emergency rooms more often, had more hospital visits, and needed more medication. Because of the medical homes, people found it less necessary to go to the hospitals as often as they used to. Again, the reason for the fewer hospital visits was because the patients had easy access to a doctor whenever they were ill.

            No matter what opinions people may have of funding these medical homes, statistics have shown that these health centers have created positive results. Many more residents are living healthier and fewer lives are being lost to easily preventable diseases. Not only do regular citizens see these positive outcomes, but the government sees it as well. That is why members of Congress have invested more of their time to help the Federal Health Centers Program.

Currently, I am new to the world of health policy and I am learning why people advocate for better health coverage for everyone. So far, I have only tasted what it means to advocate for health policies and why it is important for the health centers and health care to be present for the public. I have learned that even with all of the laws and advocacy going on for health coverage, each small step forward is a dent to mitigate this problem. There is still a lot to do to help those underserved populations and those who are in need, but as more people are educated on why health centers and health coverage is important and find their own voice and opinions on this subject, then that is as big of a step as a law helping health centers and a law that increases health coverage for all.

And the countdown begins…National Health Center Week is days away!

Friday, August 05, 2011

And the countdown begins…National Health Center Week is days away!

National Health Center Week  is just a few days away, and as you know, we have quite a bit planned!  Just in case you haven’t heard, click here for next week’s line up! 

I would like to take a moment to talk about some of the “virtual” activities we have planned in celebration of National Health Center Week.  On Facebook, we’ll be featuring each one of our health centers daily.  Since we have more health centers than days of the week, our posts will just have to flow into the following week.  And throughout the week on Twitter, we’ll take a break from our posts about the California budget and other issues so that our Twitter stream becomes a sort of “CHC Channel,” as we’ll be sharing all our favorite community health center articles, resources, and advocacy tips. 

So if haven’t officially “liked” us on Facebook or aren’t following us on Twitter, now is the time! 

On Facebook:

On Twitter:

See you all online.  Happy National Health Center Week!

My inspiration of the week- Wanda Klor, Health Care Advocate

Friday, July 29, 2011

While there seems to be no limit about what I could possibly write about (debt ceiling negotiations, National Health Center Week, the elimination of Adult Day Health Centers in California, etc.), I would be remiss to not at least mention in this week’s blog entry an amazing, inspiring woman I’ve met thanks to my work at the Partnership named Wanda Klor.

Since 2009, Wanda has organized an annual charity event, the Portera Commons Community Celebration, a fundraiser to benefit her favorite causes.  Fortunately for us, Community Health Partnership’s Community Mammography Access Projecet (CMAP) is one of them!  The Portera Commons Community Celebration is Wanda’s origination; she founded the event from scratch.   She wanted to offer a different type of fundraiser- one that was for all members of the community, that didn’t require people to purchase a $100 dinner ticket or a ball gown.  

One of the many inspiring qualities about Wanda is her deep commitment to helping those in need.  After winning her battle with breast cancer, she wanted to find a way to provide other women with the same opportunity.  Upon conducting an online search, she found Community Health Partnership, and learned about our Community Mammography Access Project (CMAP).  CMAP provides mammography services to women 40 and older not able to afford it.  Reflecting upon her experience, she decided that this was a service she wanted to raise money for.

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, when breast cancer is detected early, as in Wanda’s case, there is a 5 year survival rate of 98%.  However, if you are uninsured, the average cost of receiving a mammography is $300.  If you are unemployed or are struggling to make ends meet, $300 is cost prohibitive.  Imagine needing a mammography, not knowing if you have cancer, and not having the means to pay for it. 

Last year, thanks to Wanda Klor’s Portera Commons fundraiser, 25 women in Santa Clara County who needed a mammography received one through CMAP.  Imagine the impact of possibly saving 25 women’s lives.  What an inspiring example of health care advocacy. 

National Breast Cancer Awareness month is three months away in October.  October also happens to be the month of Wanda’s birthday.  2011 also marks her 13th year being cancer-free.  Wanda will be celebrating these occasions with us in October by riding with us in our mobile mammography van. 

We’re really looking forward to it.