Steve Miracle, CEO at Georgia Mountains Health in Blue Ridge, GA
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.
In addition to responding to national advocacy alerts, Georgia Mountains Health has focused on two specific areas to grow its advocacy programming: increasing patient engagement in advocacy and raising awareness about health centers among local and state elected officials. In addition, we held two events during Health Center Week to highlight the services available through our Health Center.
Health Center Week: We held a Back-to-School Bash at our Chatsworth Georgia Health Center. Over 150 students and parents participated in the event receiving free health screenings, school supplies, and backpacks. There were games, a bounce house, and lots of fun for all. In addition, we partnered with a mobile mammography service and the Lion’s Club eye glass program to bring additional services to attendees. The event also included a table with information regarding health center funding and the looming cliff. Our Advocacy Coordinator created a “Save Our CHC” table where she and I explained aspects of health center funding and the importance of action on the part of Congress to ensure stability of the health care safety net. Participants were given the opportunity to sign up as advocates.
Additionally, we took the opportunity to demonstrate the collaborative posture of Georgia’s Health Centers for a study committee of the State Legislature. This Committee has been holding hearings throughout Georgia focused on economic development in rural areas. During Health Center Week, the committee met in Dalton, Georgia to discuss issues surrounding work force in rural areas. Our Health Center, located in that community, arranged for a mobile medical office operated by a sister Health Center to be on site. Many of our state legislators took advantage of the opportunity to tour the mobile clinic and learn more about how Health Centers play an important role not only in providing health care services but also in economic development in rural areas.
Patient Engagement: All our offices have made a concerted effort in creating advocates among our patients. During the two weeks before and after Health Center Week we had displays and information about the Health Center Funding Cliff in all our sites. Patients were given the opportunity to learn more about health center funding and to sign up as advocates.
Local Elected Leaders: During the month of August our Health Center hosted visits by local elected officials including: the Mayor and a Council Person from the Blue Ridge, County Commissioners from Lumpkin and Fannin Counties, a Council Person from Ellijay.