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2019 Grassroots Advocacy Hall of Fame Inductee Spotlight: Michael A. Holmes

2019 Grassroots Advocacy Hall of Fame Inductee Spotlight: Michael A. Holmes

Michael A. Holmes was appointed CEO by the Cook Area Health Services Board of Directors on 3/1/1979. The organization began Community Health Center operations on 5/1/1979 with a single site and two physicians and two dentists.  Cook Area Health Services, also known as Scenic Rivers Health Services, currently operates six medical clinics and four dental clinics in an 8,200 square mile sparsely populated area of northern Minnesota. The health center provides medical, dental and behavioral health services to more than 13,000 patients annually.

In addition to meeting the increasing demand for Community Health Center access in northern Minnesota, Holmes also saw the need for moving the organization to an electronic medical record and determined that it could be best accomplished through a network structure. In 2001 Scenic Rivers Health Services, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic and the Migrant Health Services formed the Northern Minnesota Network, now known as the Breakwater Health Network. The Network later added Lake Superior Community Health Center and Community Health Partnership. This health center controlled network has implemented shared Health Information Technology systems to provide practice management, electronic medical records and electronic dental records in rural, medically underserved areas of Minnesota, North Dakota and Illinois. The network is also participating in a Medicaid Accountable Care Organization rural demonstration project.

Since 2014, Holmes has been the Treasurer for the National Association of Community Health Centers and was the Parliamentarian for the 2007-2009 terms. He currently chairs both the Health Policy Committee and Finance Committee and is the 2nd Vice Chair of the Nominating Committee.  Holmes also serves on the rules and rural health committees.

Holmes recently stated, “Even after spending 40 years as a health center advocate, my job’s not done.  We must continue to improve the health of our patients and improve the access to care for the underserved populations of this country.