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.

If you enjoy Compass and like the job we’re doing, please consider becoming an advocate by clicking the link below:





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.

Brown 1
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!)

wenstrup 1

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.

portman 1
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!

portman 2
Photo Courtesy of OACHC

Advocacy Update – Good News Friday!


In case you haven’t already heard, a deal over the budget has been struck by both the House and the Senate. It was then signed into law by the President a few hours later. Part of the package includes an extension of Community Health Center funding for two years!

To say this was a long, hard fought battle is an understatement. Between the media conferences, phone calls, emails sent, rallies attended, and the red shirts worn, advocates here at home and across the nation have been responding in force and showing up in droves to represent Community Health Centers and, more importantly, the approximately 27 million Americans they serve.

We think it’s safe to say, on behalf of the nation’s Community Health Centers, thank you for supporting us and helping ensure we can continue to do what we enjoy which is helping ensure every member of a community has access to affordable quality healthcare.


Why We’ll Be Wearing Red Tuesday, February 6th


We wear red for the more than 2000 patients we have the privilege of providing care for. We wear red for the patients who, many for the first time in years, can afford to see a provider because of the sliding fee program we’re able to offer. We wear red for the patients who successfully completed integrated substance abuse treatment with and for those still working to achieve their goals of an addiction-free life. We wear red for the children who have and who are overcoming challenges and improving their daily lives through our pediatric occupational therapy program.

We wear red because, since the expiration of Community Health Center funding starting October 2017, 9 million Americans have been at risk of losing access to affordable health care. We wear red to show Congress that Community Health Centers are important staples of healthy communities and that there can be no more waiting for the millions of Americans who rely on Community Health Centers for their care! We will be wearing red tomorrow to show our support for the 2000 Southern Ohioans and 27 other million Americans who depend on Community Health Centers for their care.

We encourage you to show your support for Compass and the nation’s other Community Health Centers and all of the services they help provide by wearing red tomorrow Tuesday, February 6th. Share your pictures via social media with the hashtag #RedAlert4CHCs and don’t forget to tag your Members of Congress. For more information, please visit The Health Advocacy Network.


Tell Congress no more delays! The time to act is NOW!

Despite progress in early November in the form of Houses’s Championing Healthy Kids Act, the community health center’s “Fix the Cliff” issue is still far from resolved. And now, it seems, there’s talk of another delay to the critical safety net funding until after the first of the year.

Understandably, Congress has had a rather full plate moving into the new year. However, the lack of movement concerning health center funding is continuing to take its toll on the nation’s health centers and the communities they serve. Presently, health centers are reporting difficulty recruiting providers and purchasing equipment with some sites discussing closure due to funding uncertainty. (X)

Recent estimates suggest 27 million, or 1 in 12 Americans, receive care from a community health center. For many of these Americans, health centers are the only viable option within a considerable distance. Because health centers provide care for anyone, regardless of their ability to pay, the inability to properly staff or equip a center, or the closure of even one site could be the difference of life or death for many in a community.

That’s why it’s as important as ever that you take action TODAY and demand your Members of Congress recommit to fixing community health center funding before the end of the year.


Fix Cliff


It’s the Final Countdown!

The U.S. Capitol may be hundreds of miles away but readers should understand the actions our leaders take have a direct and immediate impact on our community.

A case in point is an imperiled health care program that already delivers results for the American taxpayer: Community Health Centers. They now serve 1 in 12 Americans, or 27 million people.  Health centers don’t just save lives, they also lower health care costs, create jobs, and reduce hospital visits so that fewer dollars are spent on “sick care.”   But unless Congress acts by the end of this month to extend their funding, the consequences for these health centers and their patients will be drastic.

The program would be reduced by approximately 70%. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) itself has projected that the impact would be dramatic: closure of 2,800 health center locations, elimination of more than 50,000 jobs, and a loss of access to care for more than 9 million patients.  Keep in mind this is a program that has been in place for more than 50 years and enjoys broad bipartisan support in Congress.  Right now more than 75 national organizations,  representing doctors, nurses, hospitals, health centers, children, patients, the faith community, financial institutions and health care industry partners, are banding together and calling on lawmakers to extend health center funding before September 30.

Please help us bring this end of month deadline to our lawmakers attention and ask them to act now. Time is running out! For information on how you can get involved and contact your elected leaders, visit www.hcadvocacy.org today.

#CompassAdvocates, News & Events

Compass Heads to San Diego for Training, Advocacy, and More

This week, Compass staff Summer Kirby (CEO), Eva Gitome (CFO), and Erin Trapp (Clinical Director) traveled to San Diego to attend National Association of Community Healthcare Center’s (NACHC) annual Community Health Institute (CHI) and Expo. While there they looked for opportunities to network with representatives from Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers (FQHCs) from all across the nation, as well as attend general and individualized informational sessions on topics vital to community health center (CHC) operations and interests.

During the opening general session, participants were greeted by new NACHC Board Chair Jim Luisi. Luisi took the opportunity to remind the audience of the fast approaching FQHC fiscal cliff and the important role advocates will play in the coming weeks. They also heard from a community health center patient Anna Arellano, who said community health centers were the key to helping her live a healthier life.

CHI Group I
(L to R) Summer Kirby, Jim Luisi, Erin Trapp, Eva Gitome

At the following general session, attendees were given the opportunity to hear from Erik Wahl, an internationally recognized graffiti artist and author. Wahl discussed how organizations who embrace creativity and “disruption” will flourish, while those who don’t make innovation a top priority will fall behind.

Individualized session topics included discussions on how to improve work flow to identify and address the socioeconomic needs of patients, either through in-house means or through referral sources. Another session focused on how to reduce dependency on grant funding should reductions to the federal budget be ratified. There was also a session on up-to-the-minute updates from Capitol Hill, with special emphasis on funding, Medicaid, telehealth and more.



(L to R) Eva Gitome, Summer Kirby, Jim Macrae (HRSA), Erin Trapp

One overarching theme of the convention has been the pressing reality of the upcoming FQHC fiscal cliff. If Congress does not act by September 30, 2017 community health centers stand to lose upwards of 70% of their funding. This funding is vital to ensuring community health centers can continue to deliver high quality, affordable health care to all members of the community, regardless of their ability to pay.

That’s why it’s imperative you sign up as an ADVOCATE TODAY, and tell your legislators that good health and FQHC funding is important to you.


Policy Update


We wanted to share with you, earlier today the US House of Representatives voted to move the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to the US Senate for further consideration. While the bill has passed its first step, there is still a process it must undergo before becoming law. At present, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still in place. Compass will continue to provide our patients with quality affordable care and assist the community with Medicaid and Marketplace applications. We will also continue to advocate to ensure all of our patients have access to comprehensive affordable health coverage. We welcome and appreciate as many advocates as are willing to help us in our efforts. You can sign up here.



Calling All Advocates!

Ask Senator Portman to #valueCHCs by Signing the Wicker-Stabenow Health Center Funding Letter

Senators Roger Wicker (R- MS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) are continuing to circulate a letter in the U.S. Senate in support of Community Health Centers in the FY18 Appropriations Process. Click here to email, tweet, post, or call Senator Portman and ask that he sign. There are only 5 days left until the deadline – act now before April 26.

And don’t forget to sign up to be a health center advocate TODAY! This will help keep you up-to-date on issues and policy changes affecting your healthcare and gives you the opportunity to make your voice a part of the discussions and decisions to come.