National Health Center Week has been celebrated for more than 30 years. Early on, health centers as part of NACHC recognized the benefits of joining together in a week of celebration to showcase their programs and deliver a strong message nationwide for their health centers and patients.
The goals of National Health Center Week are twofold: to enhance the visibility and profile of Community, Migrant, and Homeless, and Public Housing Centers; and to generate community pride and build support for the health centers program. National Health Center Week provides an ideal occasion to celebrate the long record of success and delivery of high quality, cost effective, and accessible care across the nation. It is a great opportunity for health centers to speak out telling the story of their community-based model of care and creating public awareness of what they do and how they do it.
Health centers are encouraged to develop and coordinate activities with their State and Regional Primary Care Associations and other heath centers. In addition, health centers can enlist the support of volunteers from the community, and coordinate events with other community organizations as well as solicit sponsorships from the private business sector. While it is recognized that not all centers have the resources and staffing to plan large community events, the objective is to build awareness and support for the health center program. Every health center can do something by urging a local newspaper to write a story about the impact of its role in meeting community health needs, by sending out a press release announcing National Health Center Week, by inviting local officials and state and national lawmakers for a site visit to the health center, or by requesting a proclamation from their town to recognize its contributions in reducing health disparities and promoting health and prevention. Whatever you can do counts!
In recent years, both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have unanimously passed resolutions calling upon the nation to celebrate National Health Center Week and recognize the contributions of America’s Health Centers. Last year and in several previous years the President of the United States issued a Presidential Proclamation. In addition, governors, mayors and local governing bodies issue proclamations in tribute to the role of Health Centers in expanding access to affordable and quality care in their states and communities. Last year, at the request of State/Regional Primary Care Associations and their Health Centers, governors and mayors over in 30 states across the country issued proclamations.
In the last few years, National Health Center Week activities have dramatically increased. This year more than 1,650 National Health Center Week events were reported. Health Center events involved more than 80 members of Congress, 200 state and local media clips, and nearly 30,000,000 Twitter impressions. For National Health Center Week 2017 we hope that Health Centers in all 50 states will continue to take this opportunity to join in the celebration and make a powerful statement across the country for America’s Health Centers.
Health Center Week was not always celebrated in August. However, it has become month of choice to reach out to lawmakers and the media and to promote the Health Center legislative agenda. For example, Congress traditionally takes a recess in August allowing US Representatives and Senators to return to their home states and congressional districts. It is normally the time just before final decisions are made in Congress on appropriations and a host of other issues that may affect health center programs. Members of Congress are eager to attend public events at Health Centers and to meet and hear from their constituents. In addition, August is generally a “slow” news month for the media. With Congress and many state legislatures either on recess or adjourned, reporters are searching for stories and issues to cover. Also, Health Centers have found that August is an ideal time to reach out to families and children with health fairs/Screenings and back-to-school Immunizations.
A Health Center Week theme enables health centers to frame specific messages in recognition of the strength and vitality of health centers to their communities and the health care system over all. This year’s theme is “Celebrating America’s Health Centers: The Key to Healthier Communities”.
Health Center Week focus days help narrow attention to some of the unique features and services of health centers in light of the annual theme. Read more about 2017 focus days and access specific content and data related to each focus day here.
NACHC makes available an informational toolkit to assist Health Centers in planning events and developing messages for the press, public officials and the public at large. The NACHC toolkit can be accessed and downloaded through the website (www.healthcenterweek.com). NACHC also makes available a National Health Center Week Poster, which can be proudly displayed at health center sites and within communities. Other items such as T-Shirts and banners may be available for purchase. In addition, NACHC solicits sponsorships for National Health Center Week to support Health Center events at both the national and local levels. For assistance, email email@example.com
Check directly with the Health Center and request to speak to the Executive Director, Chief Executive Officer, or the person in charge of Health Center Week. Interested parties may request a listing of Health Centers in the state from their State or Regional Primary Care Association.
Health Centers will post their planned events under state listings on the NACHC Health Center Week Events Map (www.healthcenterweek.com). Health Centers are able to enter their own postings on the website.
National Health Center gives Health Centers a chance to bring light to the health needs in our communities and the shared stake in community health. It allows us to show not only what we do but how our unique model of care is offering solutions to the nation’s health care crisis. Health Center Week has become a powerful tool to rally public support for the Health Centers program. Remember, public support and confidence in our programs translates into legislative victories, positive administrative policies and growing partnership with the public and private sectors so that Health Centers can serve greater needs and lead this nation to a more equitable health delivery system for all people.