Kristina Hoeschen, Administrative Services Manager at Sea-Mar Community Health Center in Seattle, WA
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sea Mar participates in advocacy efforts at the local, state, and national levels, placing high priority on access to health care and issues affecting the Latino community. These efforts are supported by employees contacting elected officials, participating in advocacy events such as the National Association of Community Health Centers’ Policy and Issues Forum, the Washington Association of Community and Migrant Health Centers’ Joint Legislative Day, and the Latino Civic Alliance’s Latino Legislative Day. At these events, Sea Mar leaders come together to meet with legislators and other health center and community advocates to bring attention to issues affecting health centers, health care, and our communities.
Over the last several months, the ACA repeal and health center funding cliff have been at the forefront of Sea Mar’s advocacy efforts. Sea Mar sends calls of action to its network of 2,500 employees, asking everyone to make calls and send emails to elected officials. Our goal is strength in numbers – the more people legislators hear from, the more the importance and urgency of the issue is called to their attention. In addition to calls and emails, Sea Mar leadership attended the Policies and Issues Forum, joining other WA health centers in meetings with legislators to discuss health center funding and the pending funding cliff. Staff across Sea Mar has also connected with legislators back in WA, either with one-on-one visits, meetings with legislative aides, or as part of health care-related town hall meetings.
Additionally, Sea Mar’s communications team created a social media calendar specific to the ACA repeal and ‘Fix the Cliff’ efforts, with daily posts and tweets sharing the importance of these issues to Sea Mar and its patients. Posts encouraged followers to contact their legislators and ask them to vote no on repeal efforts and take action on health center funding. An email was also sent to 74,000 patients encouraging them to contact their elected official to ask them to take action on the health center funding cliff.
During National Health Center Week, Sea Mar’s 32 medical clinics throughout western Washington hosted daily events throughout the week. This included health fairs, resource fairs with partner organizations, healthy cooking demonstrations, screening clinics, vaccination clinics, children’s activities, insurance enrollment assistance, community events such as open houses and BBQs, and more. National Health Center Week was promoted on Sea Mar’s social media pages and throughout each clinic’s community. National Health Center Week is a great way to connect with our communities while emphasizing the importance of health centers.
Advocacy is at the core of Sea Mar’s mission, and we will continue long into the future to make sure we are a strong voice for the communities and patients we serve.