News & Spotlights

HealthPoint Goes to the Capitol

January 31st, 2018

HealthPoint Goes to the Capitol


There is a HealthPoint caravan heading south today as 12 members of our team converge on the State Capitol. You may wonder: what is King County’s largest community health center (CHC) doing down in Olympia? The answer is simple: we’re here to get face-time with our legislators and advocate for our patients and communities.Some of HealthPoint's 2017

Tomorrow our team will sprint to meet with 28 legislators representing 12 districts. This sprint is part of Legislative Days (aka "Leg Days"), a marathon of meetings that bring together patients and staff from more than twenty CHCs and legislators from all 49 districts.  With our CHC powers combined, our goals are to:

  • Share why community health centers are not just valuable, but vital to the people and communities our legislators represent;
  • Ask for a commitment to protect the health care safety net and preserve low-income patients’ right to have a choice and a voice in their health care.
  • Thank our legislators for passing a capital budget that will provide an additional 52,000 low-income WA residents (including 4,500 HealthPoint patients!) with access to dental care.  

Three members of our Leg Days team work at two of our busiest medical clinics: HealthPoint Kent and HealthPoint Midway.  As medical, behavioral, and social service providers respectively, these staff are integral to caring for the ~150 people who walk through our clinic doors each day.  Given the importance and quantity of clinic work and the challenges associated with fitting a mid-week, multi-day trip to Olympia into an already packed schedule, you might be surprised that staff are eager to participate. 

We sat down with two of this year’s staff participants to understand why this opportunity to talk with our legislators is so important to them:


Miriam Barocio
Client Services Representative (CSR) at HealthPoint Midway

Attending Legislative Days in Olympia is important to me because it’s an opportunity to speak up for our patients and community.  As a CSR, I sit down with patients and community members and hear their stories every day; every day I see first-hand how important it is for patients to have community resources available.  Not everyone has the opportunity or ability to share their story or voice their needs and be listened to by people in power.  I feel it is my duty as a HealthPoint CSR and Advocacy Coordinator to speak up for our patients and make sure that our legislators hear their stories and understand how important HealthPoint is to our communities. Thousands of people (people whose interests are supposed to be represented by our legislators) rely on HealthPoint, not only for their health needs, but also for support with resources ranging from housing, to food security, to childcare.

On a personal level, attending Legislative Days in Olympia is important to me because it’s an opportunity I don’t know I will have again and I would like to share a life experience in hopes it will help others.

 As a ten-year-old child, I witnessed my mother and father struggling to pay for my medical needs.  I remember sitting in the living room hearing my father and mother talk about how they were going to pay for my cardiologist visits; I remember my father saying “Well, I’ll just have to get a third job because she needs this,” and my mother answering “but we’ll never see you.”  I felt it was my fault that my family would not get to spend time with my father. That awful feeling did not go away until I turned 16 and found a charity care program that would help my family with my medical expenses. This experience is what drove me to one day work in a Community Health Center—I didn’t want other children to go through what I experienced as a child watching my parents and family suffer because of not having the resources to pay for my medical needs.

When I first learned about HealthPoint and its mission to break down barriers to good health, I knew it was where I wanted to be.  Now that I’m a CSR, I help hundreds of community members access the resources they need. I’m able to do this work through the help of grants and programs, many of which are funded by the state and federal government.  Without these programs I know many, many people will suffer and I want to ask our legislators to continue supporting community health centers so that we can continue to help those in need.

Robert Allred, PhD
Behavioral Health Consultant at HealthPoint Kent

Many people live in very difficult circumstances. We know that that these ongoing forms of stress have a huge impact on health outcomes. As a result of this long-term stress, as well as other difficult situations, many people also have mental health concerns like untreated depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. When people do not have regular access to quality, affordable healthcare, these risk factors compound and increase the likelihood of serious, chronic medical and mental health outcomes, reduce quality of life, and increase the risk of early death. It’s important to me, as a behavioral health provider, that my patients have access to their healthcare team. I’ve seen how lack of access impacts mental and physical health, especially in vulnerable populations. As a provider, I’ve struggled to find my patient the care that they need when they don’t have access to quality insurance coverage. I feel like I have an ethical and moral responsibility to advocate for my patients, there is only so much advocacy I can do from the consulting room. Sometimes we have to go and speak face-to-face with our representatives.

I plan to share with our legislators how critically important it is to make sure that Medicaid expansion in Washington is not rolled back. I plan to ask how they intend to improve the quality and cost of health insurance plans purchased through the Washington Health Exchange. I plan to discuss the need to make sure we have strong and vital community health centers. I also plan to discuss how difficult it can be for so many of my patients to get access to ongoing specialty mental health care—particularly those on disability for mental illness.

Every Voice Counts – Use Yours to Speak Up for HealthPoint Patients & Communities!

As one of last year’s staff participants pointed out: “Politicians rely on us to tell them what matters to our communities.”  So let’s tell them loud and proud that access to health care MATTERS to us, our patients, our families, and our communities. 

Take Action: These are a few simple, but powerful things you can do to support HealthPoint patients…because EVERYONE deserves GREAT CARE:

  1. Fill out a Save Healthcare in Washington cards and turn it in! 
    1. Cards are available at HealthPoint clinics, or you can take action online.
  2. Join the National Association of Community Health Centers mailing list—and participate!
  3. Find your legislators’ and Congresspersons’ Facebook or Twitter account and engage with them on healthcare related issues.
  4. Speak up in casual conversations with friends and family, and on social media about the importance of protecting healthcare.