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NHCW 2023 Activities

National Health Center Week

Every August our federal partner, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) sponsors National Health Center Week (NHCW) to celebrate and raise awareness of community health centers (CHCs) across the country. This week (Aug 6 – 12) is dedicated to highlighting the commitment our community health centers have for their patients who are often the most vulnerable and historically marginalized members of our communities. With a focused theme on each day of the week, this is also a week to thank CHC staff, board, and stakeholders for their continued support so that our CHCs can continue to provide accessible and equitable healthcare to all who walk through their doors.

Senator Susan Eggman Roundtable Discussion

One of the ways we celebrated NHCW at AHC/CHCN was to host California State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman in a roundtable discussion moderated by Dr. Jennifer Penney, Chief of Behavioral Health Services at our member CHC Axis Community Health.

Senator Eggman, who represents the 5th Senate District in the Central Valley was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom as the Senate’s new Health Committee Chair. As the Health Chair, the Senator’s top two priorities are expanding mental health services as well as addressing the systemic cause of homelessness and helping to increase support for our unhoused communities. We knew this would be the perfect opportunity to showcase some of the innovative ways our member CHCs continue to address these two issues throughout Alameda County.

We brought providers, and other allied health professionals from all eight of our member CHCs to the table in a robust dialogue with the Senator. Conversations included the ways in which our health centers use their street outreach teams, their mobile sites, and dedicated brick and mortar sites to provide care for unhoused and homeless patients and communities. Our CHCs are trusted resources for our patients, and by helping bring comprehensive integrated care to where the need is the most or creating safe spaces for vulnerable patients to receive care, they’re helping to empower those who often feel the most powerless by assisting them on their healthcare journeys with dignity and respect.

It’s okay to stumble, it’s okay to take a step back … we’re ready for [our patients] and were there for them when they need us. – Emily Jimenez, Street Health Outreach Program Manager, BSN, RN, PMH-BC, TVHC

In addition to showcasing the ways in which they respond to our unhoused patients, our member CHCs were able to showcase some of the innovative ways in which they provide expansive behavioral health care services. Everything from creating and utilizing mental health urgent care service, helping to navigate reentry populations, piloting programs like the county-led 5050 pilot, which grants behavioral health clinicians the ability to issue 5150 holds without involvement of law enforcement, and creating culturally and linguistically safe spaces for patients to feel safe and empowered. Some of our member CHCs also shared how their contracts with Alameda County Behavioral Health allow them to provide specialty mental health services in house to support many of these prevention and early intervention services within our health centers’ Integrated Behavioral Health programs.

It’s not just the therapy we provide, it’s also the connection we create with our patients, and we need more of that. – Jenny Lam, LCSW BH Clinician, Asian Health Services

Throughout the entire discussion, our health centers reiterated how important it is to have bilateral support with our county. To create and expand effective programs, having a successful and operative partnership and collaboration with the county is imperative, something our member CHCs have carefully cultivated and sustained.

We’d like to thank Senator Eggman and her team for being so fully engaged in our discussion. Senator Eggman’s questions, specifically how we sustain funding for these programs, how does the future of payment models influence the ways in which we provide care, and of course how do we address the healthcare workforce crisis showcase the need for larger, continued discussions with our stakeholders as we continue to work together to break down barriers and create greater access to care. While great strides have been made in addressing these key issues, there is a lot more work ahead of us and having the support of legislators like Senator Eggman, as well as our Alameda County elected officials, we know that we can continue to respond, grow, and evolve in ways that help better support and provide the care our patients and community members need.

We would also like to thank the staff of Alameda County Supervisor Lena Tam and the staff from the office of Senator Aisha Wahab for attending.

Click to view some images from our Senator Eggman Roundtable:

Our Member CHCs During NHCW

Throughout the week, our member CHCs engaged in various thematic NHCW activities to continue to raise awareness of the expansive services our CHCs provide to their patients and community members alike. Activities included showcasing support for health center staff with tokens of appreciation, honoring their dedicated patient advisory councils and boards, hosting various stakeholders at their sites, including our Alameda County elected officials as well as our state partner, California Primary Care Association, and much more.

Our member CHCs are a testament to what comprehensive, accessible, and quality healthcare should be. They continue to evolve and respond to the ever-evolving needs of our patients and communities.

Click to view images of come of our health centers’ activities:

Left to right: Congressman Eric Swalwell at Axis, Asian Health Services’ Food Distribution & patient leadership council meeting, BACH tabling services for unhoused patients, NAHC staff appreciation lunch.