Alecia Cyprian - Spring 2017 ALP Grad

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Advocacy from the Top Down

Alecia Cyprian, CEO at Southeast Community Health Systems in Zachary, LA

The Advocacy Leadership Program (ALP) is a six-month intensive skills-building course for health center and primary care association staff and board members. This post features some of the incredible advocacy being done by a recent ALP graduate. Learn more about the ALP here. Interested in joining the next class? Email grassroots@nachc.org.

As a health center Chief Executive Officer, I often find myself very busy and pressed for time. I could easily delegate the advocacy efforts to a department within the organization. However, I’ve learned in years past that advocacy begins with a strong commitment from the top down -- meaning the priority should be communicated from board of directors and the C-Suite, particularly the CEO. Our board of directors are advocacy-centered. They lead the charge in our advocacy efforts. One of our board members was even selected for the Consumer Advocacy of the Year Award by our Primary Care Association. 

Senator Beth Mizell visits SCHS

Our organization understands that we are the storytellers for the uninsured and underinsured – we are their "voices". And this commitment is visible through our advocacy efforts including the social media, email, and phone campaigns we conduct.  I send out a bi-weekly email communication to all employees and the board of directors, “Southeast in the Know”, and it includes information about advocacy and having our voices heard.  I encourage and challenge my colleagues to join me in advocating on behalf of the patients that we serve. Moreover, we advocate through social media platforms (Twitter and Facebook) to bring awareness to community health in our communities. 

We also advocate directly with elected officials, scheduling meetings and inviting them to our clinics to inform them of the services that are provided by the health center, who the health center serves, and the need for their support. I share with them that we work to improve quality measures because improved health outcomes strengthen the local economy. This past year, we have had several public officials visit our facilities. Additionally, I also visit them at their offices to share information about our service area population and services offered through the health center.

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Representative Robbie Carter visits SCHS

Advocacy is an ongoing process and, at Southeast Community Health Systems, is embraced from the top down. Now more than ever, we must maintain the momentum to be the "voices" for communities served by community health centers. Our work continues.

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