There is currently a lot of uncertainty and fear about the future of health care and coverage. That’s why, now more than ever, we need strong Health Center Advocates who will speak up for the needs and rights of our patients and communities.
We know advocacy can be daunting (what does that word even really mean?), so to get inspired we asked some our staff to share why and how they speak up and advocate for Community Health Centers.
Enrique Gallardo is a Quality Improvement Coordinator at HealthPoint Renton and one of our Advocacy All-Stars. Read on to learn why Enrique chooses to be a Health Center Advocate and how you can join him in advocating for HealthPoint patients and communities.
Q: Why do you think Community Health Centers MATTER? What do you feel is at risk if we do not speak up and advocate for community health centers?
A: CHCs matter within communities because we see a lot of people who are lost within their own communities, especially because we see and treat many patients with different cultures, ethnicities, and language barriers who normally don’t know about healthcare or may have a different understanding of what it means to be healthy. We not only treat our patients’ medical, dental, and behavioral health problems but we also try and educate them about the preventative measures they can take for their health because we know that without that knowledge they would go back their regular habits.
Q: What motivates you to be a community health advocate?
A: I speak up for community health centers because I believe everyone deserves a patient-centered clinic, somewhere patients can go to get all their services (medical, dental, behavioral, pharmaceutical, and any other community services that we can help them with) in one place with the desire to help each and every individual person. My motivation comes from seeing the positive change we can make in a person’s life and in their families. While I was a CSR, it was a great feeling of accomplishment to see a person’s smile and hear their stories on how I impacted their lives for the better.
Q: “Advocacy” can feel like a vague, intangible concept. What does it mean to you and what do you think it can accomplish?
A: Advocacy to me means, being a voice for your community. As a Community Health Center advocate, you are a voice for the interests and concerns of the patients. Successful advocacy first starts with understanding the wants and needs of the people who make up your community or organization because your agenda needs to match whoever you are advocating for. Then you, as the advocator, need to utilize your resources and have knowledge of what you need to do or to get in contact with, such as sending letters to members of Congress, making phone calls, and conducting research. Advocacy also entails explaining the relayed messages back to the community in a way that everyone can understand while also revealing any changes, positive or negative, that can affect them. All of these are essential for successful advocacy and creating a positive impact for the people in your community.
By not speaking up for our patients needs and advocating for them, their voice would not be heard and we can lose many fundamental programs that are funded by the State and Federal Government. Some of these programs are what sustain many CHCs funding and grants that allow us to better serve our patients for better care. Without them, patients who can’t afford health insurance would definitely not get the care they desperately deserve and need.
You can join Enrique as Health Center Advocate. Use your voice to speak up for community health centers by signing up to be a Health Center advocate at www.hcadvocacy.org/join. You will be updated with the latest news and updates as well as information on the actions you can take as an advocate.
Stay tuned for more Advocacy All-Star Posts and interview on our facebook page!