Back to the grind! Implementing lessons learned…

Well I kind of went through a little P&I Forum hangover.  Flight got back Sunday, took the day off Monday, and yesterday was taken up by A LOT of housekeeping both at the office AND the house.  But, today it is BACK TO THE GRIND.

I love that saying…

Back to the Grind!

When you first think about it, it maybe has a negative connotation (“baaack to the grind….. waking up, going to work, getting housework done, going to bed, just to do it all over again”), but with anything negative you can always spin it to be positive.  “Back to the grind” for advocates could mean any of the following and SHOULD be a sense of pride:

  • I have to “grind” out this event plan for National Health Center Week coming up
  • “Back to the grind” of consistently following up with EVERYONE – CEOs, Board Members, Staff, Patients, Legislators
  • “Grinding” your teeth because sometimes it just gets FRUSTRATING!!

Last week was my very first P&I Forum, and I am learning how great it feels leaving a place where everyone is learning from other people who are experiencing the same obstacles and victories that we go through as FQHC advocates.  But also, there is a sense of fear and anxiety of thinking outside of the box and “grinding” out a new plan, a new policy for staff, or adding things to a process that may already work fairly smoothly.

BUT!! We have to remember that trying new things that we have learned from others MAY be for the better.  I learned that our Board of Directors DOES have an advocacy committee, but I also learned that we need to boost efforts to get advocacy into the mix and have it become a regular bullet point for meetings.  “Grinding” out new plans, consistently following up, and pushing through the frustrating times is a tough part of advocacy that I am learning about RIGHT NOW.  But we have to be accountable for the people that we are advocating for.

Giving a voice on behalf of another is what an advocate does.

So what sometimes may seem as a negative “grind” of everyday work ends up being a VERY LARGE POSITIVE for those we are advocating for.

What are some tips/tricks/inspirations that get you through the “grind” of the everyday and make your job worthwhile?? Comment below.

#FQHC Advocacy – A recap from #PI11

So, I am sitting in Reagan National, waiting on my flight, and have some time to reflect on ALL of the things that I have learned throughout the week at the 2011 Policy & Issues Forum run by NACHC.  My overall reaction?


It was all that I expected and a WHOLE LOT MORE!  Sure, at times, it felt long, it felt tiring, it was a conference.  Anybody who has ever been to a work conference has sat in those rooms wondering why you are there. But if I had one wish, it would be that ALL community health center staff from the front desk staffer to the head pediatrician could attend.  It is such a great thing to bring together people with the same passion and experiences.

Well, last Monday I wrote about my expectations and what I would like to learn while I was here.  And, now I have a few answers!!

  • How to be a better advocate

RELATIONSHIPS, RELATIONSHIPS, RELATIONSHIPS – building relationships legislators, media contacts, and even your own staff can help build a culture of advocacy within your CHC.  It is daunting to think of starting it up (but let’s do it together!).  I know my health center needs to step it up!

  • How do CHCs and ending homelessness intertwine

I attended a session on this subject and wrote about it in a previous post.  To put in the format from above – COLLABORATE, COLLABORATE, COLLABORATE.  We need to break out of our “silos” of service.  CHCs and homelessness organizations are serving the same demographic.  If communication and collaboration is invited, then together we can end homelessness and provide health homes for all.

  • How to continue to push

PLAN, PLAN, PLAN; START EARLY, START EARLY, START EARLY.  The reason I had this question was because I wondered how to advocate WELL during the times when their is NOT a cut in health center funding going through Congress.  I think if CHCs have a plan, whether that is increasing voters or planning an event for National Health Center Week, we need to plan and start early.  Have education in the back of your mind because the greatest barrier I have noticed in speaking with other advocates; our staff and patients just DON’T KNOW what we are doing.

We are all learning as we go, experiencing different barriers and obstacles all the time, but the greatest tools we have are persistence and each other.  PLEASE feel free to comment below, ask questions, tweet or email me.  My favorite part of #PI11 was learning from others, and being able to continue that is key.

#FQHC Advocacy – Day 5 #PI11

No two part series today!  But that did not mean that it was a bad day at all.

This morning all health center advocates and representatives got to hear from Dr. Mary Wakefield, Administrator for HRSA, Dr. Don Berwick, Administrator for CMS, and Dr. Richard Gilfillan, Acting Director for CMS.  Wonderful updates from all three about how health centers can help lead the way and work together to make things work for health care reform.  AGAIN, collaboration was a hot topic; not just collaboration among different care, but collaboration among different departments of health care!

For my afternoon sessions, I attended the “Getting the Most Out of National Health Center Week: Event Planning, Sponsorships, and Public Relations” and the “Getting the Most Out of Social Media for Community Health Centers (Part 2)”.  The Nat’l Health Center Week session went VERY well.  Stressing the importance of starting to plan early, gaining support from community organizations, and ONCE AGAIN (advocacy underlined) asking your legislators to be a part of the events. Social Media Part 2 was good, I have been lucky enough to have a boss that has allowed me to do a lot of my own research on these tools; so, I knew a lot of what was talked about.  However, it is ALWAYS great to hear what other FQHCs are doing to incorporate social media into their care and having it be a way to make increase the QUALITY of care.

Well, that was a quick overview of what happened today, but I want everyone to know this.

Never underestimate the power of speaking with someone face-to-face.  Facebook, Tweet, and blog as much as possible, but when you get a chance to introduce yourself to someone and put a face to your “user”name it is a powerful deal!

I can’t WAIT for tomorrow.  The very reason I was able to attend #PI11.  Talk to you soon.

#FQHC Advocacy – Day 4 – Pt. 2 #PI11

WHEW!! The education just keeps on coming!  I had a great afternoon.  Two hill visits, the Congressional Awards dinner, and a #tweetup with some fellow FQHC advocates!

The two hill visits = COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

The first visit was with a long time supporter of health centers.  We had to drive home, not the fact to KEEP level funding for CHCs, but the fact that peer-to-peer conversation among legislators to keep level funding is EXACTLY what we need.  The second hill visit was with a freshman Senator’s Legislative Director, and over 25 advocates from Indiana represented CHCs to let the legislator know just how serious this issue is.

The Awards dinner and #tweetup was great!  A little time to relax and learn more from other advocates.  Met with @gracesonia, @lynnwms, @justjolly, @IThealthnonprof, @Venatta_PDX and it was great.  Talking with many about the helpful tool of social media and different ideas on ways to attract others to join the cause!

Advocacy is in the air!  And we aren’t stopping!  The best thing that I heard today, it was at the Awards dinner – “FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP! What you don’t do MAY hurt you, but what you DO do WILL ALWAYS HELP YOU!”

Good night!  I am looking forward to a day full of learning sessions tomorrow!



#FQHC Advocacy – Day 4 – Pt. 1 #PI11

It is middle of the day, DAY 4, and it feels like I have been here FOR A MONTH!! Not in a bad way, but in the way that I have learned SO MUCH since I landed in DC.  #PI11 has been awesome so far.

I just got done with “The Role of Health Centers to Prevent and End Homelessness” session. WHAT A GREAT SESSION!  This tied in both subjects that I am most compassionate about in advocated for, and further instilled my belief that if there were only TWO human rights those two should be HOUSING and ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE.

“If you collaborate well, collaborate MORE.” – Jennifer Ho, Deputy Director of USICH

What I took away most from this session, whose co-speakers were Jennifer Ho (Deputy Director of USICH) and Barbara DiPietro (Director of Policy at NHCHC), is that collaboration among the spectrum of human services is VITAL to the well-being of our nation.  Being able to integrate affordable primary and behavorial health care with housing and employment assistance programs is more than just handing out referrals back and forth.

We need health center staff and employees to be able to recognize and know how to care for the homeless. Being able to break out of our silos of care and collaborate with one another will be beneficial for the people we are serving, for our neighborhoods as whole, and our country that is so wealthy that there is no reason why people should remain homeless.

Please feel free to comment and question below.  This is a subject that I believe in the most, and discussion can ONLY increase knowledge.  These issues will not go away soon.

#FQHC Advocacy – Day 3 – Pt. 2 #PI11

What a day!!

I learned SO MUCH!  Each day in the past 8 months has been a learning experience for me.  In college I had no intention of getting into health care, and I am now at the Policy & Issues Forum preparing to meet with legislators on the day of the One Year ANNIVERSARY of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act!!

A few highlights from the General Opening Session (other than the fact that we got to hear Secretary of the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius AAAAAND wife of late Ted Kennedy, Vicki Kennedy!!)

  • “Let’s stand together and proudly present our new logo” – Yes, this will be KEY for advocacy NACHC presented a new FQHC logo (to be used soon).
  • “To every complex problem, there is a simple, easy answer.  And, that answer is wrong.” A great quote given by a great speaker, Vicki Kennedy.  I think this tells the story of all advocacy projects.
  • “Nobody does it better than you!” A compliment from Secretary Sebelius.  A statement that should remind all FQHC advocates of who we represent our staff!

The first day of #PI11 turned about to be a great start to what I expected!  Tomorrow HILL VISITS.. time to quit talking and start doing!

#FQHC Advocacy – Day 3 – Pt. 1 from #PI11

Made my way to Washington, D.C.  Luckily, I had some help from HealthNet who have been to the P&I Forum a few times.  Thank goodness they happened to be on my flight!

As a current EDUCATION advocate, I have learned a lot just from the first session.
“Understanding Congress” was given by Marc Wetherhorn (@MarcWNACHC), the Advocacy Director for NACHC.  Three highlights to take away from the talk are below.  Hopefully I can help other FQHC advocates learn a little bit about the working of Congress and how they can help us.

  1. Basics – In the House, the Majority RULES! Seriously, if you are in the minority you can let your voice be heard, but the majority is going to get their way.  “We don’t need all of the seats, we need 219.” – Marc
  2. Appropriations – (right from Marc’s slide) Legislation that provides the actual funding for federal programs.  There are 11 appropriations bills enacted each year to fund federal programs.  The community, migrant and homeless health care programs are under the jurisdiction of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill in both the House and Senate.As an advocate, you should care more about cuts to appropriations rather than cuts to budgets.
  3. Congressmen/women are not crooks – Some people have the notion that legislators are weasels looking for a way to make money.  Sure, aren’t legislators swayed by special interest groups?  But many times the special interest groups are constituents.  As advocates we need to SHOW legislators (who want to do right) that what we advocate is happening at home and IS THE RIGHT THING!

Just a few chunks of knowledge from the first session #PI11 is awesome!

#FQHC Advocacy – Day 2

Got my boarding pass……… and that is about it.  I got to pack and get prepared.

But, I am really looking forward to the day tomorrow!! Landing in Washington, D.C., at about 9 a.m. and I am going to hit he ground running.  Hopefully, the forum will be ready for me!

So far I have been advocating for federally qualified health centers and homelessness prevention, but tomorrow I will be an advocate of education.  I have a lot to learn (a lot A LOT).  Starting tomorrow with the “Understanding Congress” session, I will be learning about the best ways to not just talk about it but act on it.

I hope to bring some education to others as well.  Stay tuned! I hope to be writing throughout!

#FQHC Advocacy – Day 1

Two days from now will mark the one year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.

One year ago, I HAD NO IDEA that I would be working for a Federally Qualified Health Center.
One year ago, I HAD NO IDEA that I would be leaving for the Policy & Issues Forum to talk about the importance of greater access to health care.
One year ago, I HAD NO IDEA that I would be this enthusiastic about advocacy.

In two days, I will be leaving for Washington, D.C, to participate in the Policy & Issues Forum – THE LARGEST gathering of health center clinicians, executive directors, State and Regional Primary Care partners, board members and advocates on record.  And, I am both excited and anxious.  From Wednesday to Sunday, I will be learning about both state and federal policies that affect Community Health Centers and health care for millions of Americans.

Two days away from this forum, a few things are on my mind that I would like to do/learn while I am there.

  1. How to be a better advocate – learning what it takes to be effective in talking with Legislators; knowing how to engage staff people within our health centers to help advocacy; and linking up with other advocates for support.
  2. How do CHCs and ending homelessness intertwine – there is a session on the role of CHCs to help prevent and end homlessness, and I plan to take everything I can away from this.
  3. How to continue to push – it is easy to fight during hard times, but how do FQHC advocates continue to keep the ball rolling in less turbulent times?

I hope to have answers and lessons for all three of these things!  We will see.

5 ways to help Military Families

“We have to look internally before we look outside” – First Lady Michelle Obama

This quote was given to the Governors of America on Monday morning.  Mrs. Obama was speaking about taking care of military families.  Only 1% of the population serves in uniform. That is 1% defending the rights of the other 99.

One percent of Americans put in tour after tour, wondering how their spouse and kids are doing, wondering how their aging grandparent is holding up, wondering how their son or daughter is doing in school.  And while they are wondering, they have to refocus and take care of the task at hand.  While the duty of our service men and women is to protect our freedom, I believe the duty of the American people at home is to protect our service people from having to worry about their loved ones at home.

With all of the funding cut debate, we don’t know how much government money will be there to help these families.  However, there are plenty of different ways to help military families in your own community.

Here are five –

  1. Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program – a program set up by the Department of Defense to help families of National Guard and Reserve members.  You can find the next event that is closest to you.  Volunteer, donate, or participate
  2. Operation Homefront – this program provides emergency assistance for troops, military families, and wounded warriors when they return home.  Mainly through financial assistance, fundraisers are ran to provide help for specific situations military families find themselves in.  You can sign up to be a volunteer, or you can host your OWN fundraiser for someone in need.
  3. Family Readiness Groups – this program is mainly for military family support for other military familes.  Learn more about how to help, and it may be a good suggestion to a loved one that you know is enlisted.
  4. Heroes to Hometown – a transition program for troops who were seriously injured and are returning home.  They establish a support network and coordinate resources for those servicemembers.  Part of the American Legion, there are plenty of different ways to be a part of this awesome project.
  5. Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program – part of Indianapolis’s Homeless Initiative Program (HIP), this program helps homeless veterans through employment training, housing assistance, and other support services.  You can help financially or by calling HIP for volunteer opportunities.

It is time for the 99 to put half the effort that the 1 puts toward defending our freedom and rights.

If you know of any other local programs that help the troops and more importantly MILITARY FAMILIES, comment below.