Elected Officials Day - #NHCW17

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 thousands of Federal, State and Local Elected Officials whose support and leadership have helped make the Health Center Program a success. This blog will highlight Evan Goyke, Wisconsin State Representative, Marcus Riccelli, Washington State Representative, and Gail Diggs, Aiken City Council Member. These individuals are proud to share the ways in which they engage in public service in their roles as both health center personnel and elected officials.

Gail Diggs

This post features Gail Diggs, South Carolina Aiken City Council member and Director of Outreach and Community Services, Rural Health Services, SC.

Gail Diggs never thought she would get into politics until realizing that running for a position on City Council was exactly the opportunity she was looking for to enable her to give back to the city of Aiken. Gail began working with Rural Health Services, her local community health center, in 2008, and ran for City Council in 2011. Her dual roles as Director of Communications and Operations at Rural Health Services and City Council Member enables her to give back to the community in so many different ways.

Rural Health Services’ impact in Aiken extends far beyond providing accessible, affordable, and quality primary care services to the community. Rural Health Services’ several sites throughout Aiken play an integral part in revitalization efforts in different areas, helping unify the region through its services. Rural Health Services also occasionally hosts events from other organizations throughout the community, whether it be police department trainings or events sponsored by the Community Action Commission.

From left: Michelle H. Merriweather of Journey of Joy Walking Movement, Gail Diggs, and CEO of RHS Carolyn Emanuel-McClain

The health centers’ most recent addition, a mobile medical and dental unit, is one of Gail’s proudest accomplishments. This mobile unit brings health care to hard-to-reach areas in Aiken such as inaccessible migrant camps and other very rural areas that may not offer affordable health care. The mobile unit is a frequent attendant at various events sponsored throughout the community, such as a recent United Way 5K race event and school visits. The mobile unit has also acted as a first responder unit at these events, as the health center was able to treat patients before emergency vehicles arrived on the scene!

From campaigning for the mobile unit to using her position on City Council to advocate for Rural Health Services’ programs, Gail strives to make sure her community health center meets the true needs of her community. In addition to her roles at RHS and on Aiken City Council, Gail is a board member of the Aiken Downtown Development Association, United Way, Crowning Lupus, University of South Carolina-Aiken Inclusionary Council, Aiken Regional Hospital's Community Advisory Board, and Aiken County's School Improvement Council,, and Aiken Corporation. With countless contributions to her community, Gail is known as the liaison between the health center and the community, and every day she fulfills this obligation with joy. We are grateful and proud of the incredible work Gail is doing at RHC and in her community each and every day!

To learn more about Rural Health Services, go to ruralhs.org.

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