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.
This post features Evan Goyke, State Representative for the 18th Assembly District in Milwaukee, WI and Board Member at Progressive Community Health Centers in Milwaukee.
My name is Evan Goyke and I have the honor of serving in the Wisconsin State Legislature as well as a board member and patient of Progressive Community Health Centers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Progressive found me more than I found Progressive - though today I am happy to say Progressive has given me more than I will ever be able to give back.
In 2013, as a newly elected State Representative, I eagerly accepted every meeting, tour, briefing, etc. from within my district. One fateful day included a tour and meeting of Progressive Community Health Center's Lisbon Avenue Clinic. I wasn't looking for a clinic. At the time I thought I was a reasonably healthy and a seemingly invincible young man. I hadn't been to the doctor in a decade. Health care was just something I was lucky enough not to worry about.
When I stepped into the Progressive clinic for the first time, my initial reaction was "Thank God I'm not looking for a clinic...this is the last place I'd go." I would describe the old Lisbon Avenue clinic as humble. The space was cramped and the facility in need of a wrecking ball.
What changed my mind, in the course of the one hour tour and meeting, were the people. The staff and advocates talked to me and to patients with warmth and care. I saw a staff of mission-driven professionals working on purpose. I left feeling attracted and somehow connected to the organization.
I signed up as a patient and formed an immediate relationship with my doctor, Dr. Michael Belete. He always meets me with a great smile and endless positive energy. Turns out I wasn't as healthy as I thought and certainly not invincible. In my early 30's, I was facing a difficult and unhealthy future due to my weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
For the first time in my life I paid attention to my health. Honestly, I was scared. Working with Dr. Belete, we set out a plan, goals, and an accountability plan to help lower the negative outcomes I was ignoring.
Our plan worked. Losing weight was wonderful of course, but seeing the improvement in my health was even better. Never before had I thought or acted so purposeful regarding my health. It was a wake up call and a lifestyle change.
Not long after joining Progressive as a patient, I was asked to serve on the Board. The answer was easy. I've served on the Board for a few years now and have loved seeing the organization grow and thrive. Since joining the Board, Progressive has torn down the old cramped clinic and replaced it with a state-of-the-art building, massively increasing our capacity. We've also recently partnered with Milwaukee's last remaining urban hospital by locating Progressive Urgent Care and Primary Care clinics inside the hospital. The results have been a reduction in unneeded ER visits and greater access to new Progressive patients that traditionally rely on hospitals for care.
My wife recently joined as a patient and has found a great connection with her doctor, just as I did. Progressive is my family's medical home. I feel so lucky to have stumbled on the organization as a new legislator.
I'm so proud of Progressive. We provide incredible care. I owe the organization a lot and getting the opportunity to serve on the Board is just one small way to pay back what Progressive has done for me.
To learn more about Progressive Community Health Centers, go to progressivechc.org.