Community health centers (CHCs) have made incredible progress over the past three years thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under the current federal administration, much of what CHCs have accomplished has become vulnerable to change, and yet CHCs continue to meet these challenges and remain steadfast in their mission to provide culturally appropriate primary and preventive care to anyone who walks through their doors, regardless of ability to pay or immigration status. This year’s Annual Conference theme of Challenge Change Opportunity provided a framework for CHCs to identify and address current challenges and turn them into opportunities for change.
CHC leadership, staff, supporters, and key stakeholders from throughout the state and country gathered in Anaheim on October 12-13 to discuss critical issues that impact California’s CHCs and the patients they serve. The 16 conference breakout sessions were organized into four tracks: Policy & Advocacy, Clinical & Care Innovations, Business Innovations, and Strategic Leadership. Sessions in each track addressed key topics such as workforce, immigration, payment reform, integrated care, health technology, new partnership and network models, and meeting the Triple Aim.
The conference was launched on October 12 with welcoming remarks by Carmela Castellano-Garcia, Esq., President and CEO of CPCA; and James Luisi, Executive Director and CEO of North End Waterfront Health, and Board Chair of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). The welcome session also included presentation of this year’s Hero Awards, recognizing those who have provided leadership and expertise to the CHC field:
- Marco Gutierrez (in memoriam), Center for Connected Health Policy
- Mike Schnake, BKD
- Bobbie Wunsch, Pacific Health Consulting Group.
The opening General Session presented a panel that discussed social determinants of health. Featured speakers were Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) and Dr. America Bracho, President and CEO of Latino Health Access. Each panelist described their own personal journeys and experiences that led them to a greater understanding of social factors that impact health and of why they have chosen to dedicate themselves to working on these issues in order to improve health outcomes and equity. A resounding theme of the panel was that these types of systemic challenges need sustained action, commitment, and teamwork in order to effect positive change.
This year’s lunchtime Keynote featured a Fireside Chat with actor, producer, and humanitarian, Danny Glover, who has been a commanding presence on screen, stage, and television for more than 25 years. Currently serving as UNICEF Ambassador, Glover has gained both respect and renown for his wide-reaching community activism and philanthropic efforts, with a particular emphasis on advocacy for economic justice and access to health care and education programs in the US and Africa. Glover was interviewed by Dr. Robert K. Ross, President and CEO of The California Endowment. Glover shared how his background in community development, political expression through the arts, and exposure to activism by his parents and grandparents have helped to inform his own advocacy and efforts to improve social and economic inequities. He also reminded the audience that working towards a better future requires a sustained commitment and that we should remember to celebrate progress even when faced with challenging setbacks.
At our closing session, CPCA honored and celebrated community health leaders with our Clinic Legacy Awards:
- Linnea Hunter (in memoriam), Mendocino Community Health Clinic
- Paula Cohen, Mendocino Coast ClinicsIrma Cota, North County Health Services
- John Gressman, San Francisco Clinic Consortium
- Jack Johns, Community Health Systems
- Kathy Kneer, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California
- Tracy Ream, Neighborhood Healthcare
- Stephen Schilling, Clinica Sierra Vista
This year’s Trade Show hosted 91 booths for exhibitors and sponsors and featured a theme that paid homage to Disneyland's Main Street, with the look and feel of a downtown neighborhood of yesteryear. Many of this year’s exhibitors got into the spirit and integrated this year’s theme into their booth, with the most creative winning awards based on votes cast by Annual Conference attendees. Congratulations to our 2017 winners:
- Best in show: American Cancer Society
- Best theme integration: Henry Schein
- Best Swag: The California Endowment
We hope to see everyone next year in Sacramento for the 2018 Annual Conference, October 4-5.