Health Centers 101: Class is Back in Session

Following a long day of advocating on The Hill, then a rousing pep talk by HHS Secretary Azar and HRSA Administrator Sigounas, it was time to for health center representatives to put their noses back to the grindstone and partake in various educational sessions. Topics offered ranged from advocacy to compliance to Board governance and just about everything in-between.


Compass CEO, Summer Kirby, had the opportunity to represent Compass during a session highlighting Innovative Responses to the Social Determinants of Health Using PRAPARE (Protocol for Responding to and Assessing Patients’ Assets, Risks & Experiences). PRAPARE was designed to help clinics address the various needs of their clientele.

FUN FACT: Compass was one of only five nationwide centers to receive a PRAPARE grant awarded by The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC).

Samantha Walls, O&E Specialist, attended sessions centered on advocacy including motivating special populations and sharing stories in the social media age. It was also announced during a session that this year’s National Health Center Week (NHCW) theme is ‘Celebrating Health Centers: Home of America’s Health Care Heroes’.


Summer and Samantha look forward to discussing what they’ve learned from their respective sessions with the ‘Compass Crew’. They also look forward planning how best they might be able celebrate Compass’ heroes this coming August during NHCW, from our providers, to our nurses, our reception team, to our patients, community, and everyone in-between who makes Compass an amazing place to work and one of the most beloved health centers in the area.

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Community Health Centers are the Future

Photo Courtesy of NACHC

During NACHC’s Friday session, advocates from all across the nation had the opportunity to hear from a few of the biggest names in healthcare. First up was the recently confirmed Secretary Alex Michael Azar II of Health and Human Services (HHS). A strong proponent of community health centers, Secretary Azar stated, “We see you not just as vital partners in our movement toward a health system that delivers quality, affordable care for all Americans—we see you as pioneers in this effort already.” (X)

He noted how health centers were leading the charge in quality data collection, improving patient outcomes, and transparency/communicating information, such as pricing. Recalling one encounter, Secretary Azar, having served as Deputy Director of HHS, was in need of an echocardiogram. While completing the registration process, he discovered he would need to be admitted in order to undergo the procedure. Knowing the, likely, high costs associated with the process being outlined for the procedure, he made several attempts to determine the overall rate but was told that information was not available. After much persistence, he was told the procedure would cost approximately $5,500. He then asked for the cost at the rate negotiated with his insurance company but, once again, was met with “that information is unavailable”.

After some individual research, he was able to find a local provider’s office that would deliver the service for around $500. Due to his profession, he had experience in accessing sites and resources with said information but noted, for your average patient, that degree of research is unfeasible, and that’s where health centers come in. Health centers work diligently to try and help ensure patients from each end of the socioeconomic spectrum receive quality care at a price that comes as close to fitting their budget, as possible.

Before departing, Secretary Azar reported he had the distinction of testifying the day before on the President’s budget yesterday and was supportive of the $400 million set aside for centers to help combat substance abuse, as well as the $150 million earmarked for under-served rural areas.

In his role as Secretary, Mr. Azar is looking forward to seeing, as well as assisting in, the continued expansion of health centers and is hoping we can set a goal of assisting 30 million patients nationally (up from 27 million) by year’s end.


Next to take the stage was Dr. George Sigounas, Administrator of Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Like Secretary Azar, Dr. Sigounas spoke very highly of community health centers. Dr. Sigounas specifically spoke to health centers and telehealth. Stating he had worked with HRSA since telehealth department was in its infancy and the concept was still very much considered “science fiction”, he was proud to see 57% of health centers already utilizing or were in the process of implementing telehealth in some way. As is one of the tenets of community health centers, quality affordable care should be accessible to everyone, and if that means combating barriers such as geography or lack of suitable transportation, community health centers will attempt to do all that they can to address those issues.

If you haven’t signed up to be a health center advocate, we’d appreciate having you as a part of our team. You can sign up by clicking on the following link:



You Don’t Need a Coat When it’s Summer on the Hill

**Please take a moment to consider becoming an advocate for quality affordable healthcare for all by joining the Health Center Advocacy Network.**

Following a strategy session with Ohio’s Primary Care Association, which included a pep talk from Board Chair and Community Health Services CEO Joe Liszack, Ohio’s advocates (including Compass CEO, Summer Kirby and Outreach and Enrollment Specialist, Samantha Walls) turned out in force to help spread the message to the Buckeye state’s legislators about the crucial services health centers provide for their constituents.

The morning started early with a meeting with Abigail Duggan, Senior Policy Advisor to Senator Sherrod Brown, and ended with advocates getting a few moments with the Senator, himself. Advocates opened with a ‘thank you’ for the Senator for his continued support of health centers and their funding. It was asked that the he continue to support the 340B program, a program which helps lower the cost of prescriptions for patients, as well as allows health centers to reinvest incoming funds back into their local communities. Furthermore, he was asked to support a Telehealth bill that would allow reimbursement for such services which would be extremely beneficial for clinics, such as Compass, who service patients where it may be difficult to travel in-town for care due to geography or for elderly patients who have difficulty traveling due to disabilities.

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Photos Courtesy of OACHC

Next on the agenda was a meeting with Gregory Brooks, Legislative Director for Representative Brad Wenstrup. As with Senator Brown, the similar set of asks were delivered. An extra ask was that the Congressman sign the House’s annual health center support letter, known as the Bilirakis-Green letter. Mr. Brooks assured Ohio’s advocates that the letter was on Dr. Wenstrup’s list of “Things to Do” and, later that evening, it was reported, that he had signed the letter before the 5:00 PM deadline. (If you have a minute, maybe you could take to social media and thank Congressman Wenstrup for his support! Tell him @CompassOhio sent you!)

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The final meeting of the day was with Seth Gold, Legislative Assistant to Senator Rob Portman. While advocates spent some time delving into the same asks, many also spent time discussing several budget initiatives promoted to help combat the opioid epidemic, a cause near-and-dear to the Senator’s heart.

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Photo Courtesy of OACHC

All-in-all, Ohio’s advocates wrapped the day up successfully with an added signature on the House’s health center support letter, as well as words of encouragement from the state’s legislators for the work that health centers and their staff do.

Also, not to brag, but we’ve decided the Buckeye state has the best looking group of advocates out there!

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Photo Courtesy of OACHC