Sarah François recently joined NACHC as the Deputy Director of National Grassroots Advocacy. She comes from Progressive Community Health Centers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she served as the Director of Fund Development and Marketing for more than 14 years.
According to the most recent data released by HRSA this week, for the first time ever, America’s Community Health Centers cared for more than 30 million patients in 2021. That’s A LOT of people. Throw in a seemingly never-ending pandemic, communities plagued by rising inflation, and chronic workforce shortages, it’s no wonder CHC staff are tired.
It can all seem overwhelming at times. But as we close out National Health Center Week let’s remember what CHCs may lack in resources, they make up for in passion and purpose. More than 270,000 of you show up to serve your communities each day. I’ve seen you. In fact, I’ve been you. And I know that you are some of the most resilient people on the planet.
You’re the nurse who visits an elderly patient in the hospital because you know he doesn’t have family looking after him.
You’re the front desk staff who stays late to register a patient that’s just finished working the third shift and missed their bus.
You’re the social worker who leaves no stone unturned to ensure a mother and young children have access to safe housing and fresh food.
You’re the administrative staff who sift through an endless pile of compliance regulations, coding updates, and federal funding requirements.
Some of you might have sought out a CHC career with purpose and intention. Others may have just been looking for a job in the health care field. No matter how you found your way into the Community Health Center movement, please know that you are valuable. You are providing a medical home for thousands of people in your community who would not otherwise have access to care.
Over the last two and half years, you have all earned the title of “essential personnel”. As we emerge and evolve from pandemic life, you are no less essential but might feel less appreciated and worn down. The days of free food, socially distanced parades, and other forms of recognition have mostly faded.
But on this NHCW Staff Appreciation Day, I hope your smile shines bright. I hope you feel uplifted by each other and the patients you serve. And in case nobody has told you recently, thank you for being you.