The theme of National Health Center Week this year - Celebrating America’s Health Centers: The Key to Healthier Communities - is meant to recognize the ways in which health centers serve as the foundation of health within their community. As we kickoff this incredible week of celebration, we have designated days within the week to showcase key elements of success within the Health Center Program. Today we celebrate the health centers that go above and beyond to serve the millions of kids in their communities. From coloring books and reading events to back-to-school physicals and well-child checks, health centers across the country are making sure that our future is healthy, happy, and empowered. Today we are featuring Lorain County Health & Dentistry (LCH&D) for some of the creative work they do to serve the children in Lorain, Ohio.
From its beginnings in 2002 as an FQHC look-alike, LCH&D has grown from a small community clinic to a full-fledge Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and now boasts six sites across Lorain, Amherst, Elyria, and Oberlin, Ohio. Accessibility to the breadth of the work they do in the community in a family-centered way and engaging the future generation of community members in the health center has long been an important part of the work they do.
In 2014, LCH&D submitted a fun and kid-friendly video to the National Health Center Week Contests entitled “All Aboard the Healthy Train”. With an appropriate and creative soundtrack, the video highlighted many of the things LCH&D is proudest of and features both some of the events hosted for children as well as patient testimonials. Drawing on the engagement of their staff and their broad base of support in the community, LCH&D was the grand prize winner of the 2014 Video Contest.
Poised to build on their success, in August 2015, LCH&D hosted elected officials, local partners, community members, and NACHC at the grand opening of the Louden Court site in Elyria. Following the ribbon-cutting, they hosted a children’s health fair for the surrounding community. They invited local police to talk to kids and their parents about safety and how to say “no” to drugs. They provided water and healthy snacks for the kids, and even set up an arts and crafts station. Everyone—especially the little kiddos—had a blast. LCH&D staff were on hand to talk to parents about the services they provide and continue their work to bring the community into the center for health care. As part of their effort to operate a truly integrated model of care, the health center works with local partners to serve the true needs of the community. To this end, the Louden Court site is co-located with Horizon Education Centers, which has provided childcare and educational curriculums to children of all ages across Western Cuyahoga and Lorain Counties since 1978.
Always looking to raise the bar, one of the most creative ways LCH&D has engaged their younger demographic was through the creation of a children’s book. Written by CEO Stephanie Wiersma and illustrated by LCH&D’s youngest health center advocates, the coloring book story follows a similar train theme from the video. “The Little Health Center That Could” takes readers on a journey through the history of LCH&D and speaks to the value their centers provide to the community, where “everyone lived happily ever after.” LCH&D is one of many examples of health centers that go above and beyond, providing high-quality health services to the community in a way that will resonate with patients. They play an active part in developing a sense of community in all of their locations, engaging residents of all ages in their mission and the Health Center Movement at-large.
Thanks to Stephanie Wiersma, outreach & advocacy coordinator Rebecca Shaw, and the whole team at LCH&D for providing great examples of how to reach the littlest health center patients and for all the work you do!
To learn more about LCH&D, go to lorainhealth-dentistry.org.