The NACHC advocacy team is excited to announce the Outstanding Advocate for March 2017—Dennis Kruse, Chief Financial Officer at Family Care Health Centers in St. Louis, Missouri.
Dennis joined Family Care Health Centers (FCHC) in 1998, after working for more than twenty years in other spaces within the health care sector. Under his tenure, FCHC has seen exponential financial growth, as well as a more than doubling of their patient population. Dennis’ commitment to the Health Center movement has grown, too, and he is not only involved with the Missouri Primary Care Association, but received NACHC’s Betsey Cooke Grassroots MVP Award in 2010, and currently sits on NACHC’s Board of Directors.
Over the last few years, as the NACHC advocacy team launched new programs and initiatives making it easier for people to take action and Health Centers to get involved, Dennis saw the opportunity to bolster advocacy efforts at FCHC. He has made a concerted effort in two main areas: communication and engagement.
The first step towards establishing a successful advocacy program at any Health Center is communication; letting people know what advocacy is and that it’s part of the organization’s culture. To that end, Dennis has implemented the following at FCHC:
- Introduction to advocacy as part of the on-boarding process for all new employees
- Inclusion of language about advocacy as a priority in FCHC’s personnel policies
- Incorporation of advocacy as a standing agenda item at all board meetings and quarterly all-staff meetings
- Creation of a social media footprint with the launch of a Facebook page
Once a solid foundation in advocacy was established, Dennis moved to activate and engage FCHC staff and the community. More important than names on a list are motivated advocates who will take action when needed. Dennis empowers FCHC advocates and provides ways for them to get involved in the advocacy process, including:
- Regular communication to the staff and board about current issues impacting Health Centers
- Reinforcing NACHC’s message on urgent calls to action and challenging staff to respond
- Participation in Legislative Days in Jefferson City, MO on state issues
- Hosting Members of Congress and their staff at FCHC
What has resulted from Dennis’ efforts to take advocacy to the next level has been nothing short of overwhelming success. With a staff and board that feel educated on Health Center issues and empowered to respond to calls to action, FCHC has achieved a more than 20% response rate on recent action items (for context, the industry standard for a health-related national alerts is a 3-5% response). With all of these pieces in place, it was a no-brainer for Dennis to submit an application for ACE status; FCHC is currently at the Silver tier, working their way towards Gold!
The advocacy program that Dennis has worked tirelessly to implement at FCHC can be replicated at any Health Center. However, as Dennis has demonstrated, it requires time, tenacity, and dedication to building a solid foundation in order to achieve success over time. Advocacy excellence doesn’t happen overnight.
FCHC CEO Bob Massie says of Dennis, “[an] important factor in Family Care’s success in advocacy is buy-in and support from leadership which is provided by our CFO, Dennis Kruse. He has been an enthusiastic and driven advocate both within the health center, including staff and Board, and outside the health center in other health centers, associations, and [our] residency training affiliate.”
Kudos, Dennis, and thank you for all that you do to drive effective advocacy at FCHC and across the nation!
Do you know an Outstanding Advocate who deserves this recognition? Let us know! Email Elizabeth Kwasnik at firstname.lastname@example.org.