Reflections: What it Means to be a Community Health Center

Today’s post is brought to you by our guest blogger Cara Conrad, courtesy of the Siouxland Community Health Center.

National Health Center WeekPerhaps there is no greater time to reflect on what it means to be a community health center than National Health Center Week (August 8-14). This year, health centers celebrate 45 years of providing quality health care to the communities they serve, especially the underserved and those most impacted by access barriers. So in recognition of this year’s theme for National Health Center Week, “Turning the Vision into Reality,” Siouxland Community Health Center (SCHC) looks on at its own vision, and how living its mission everyday has transformed these directional statements into a compassionate and motivated reality. The Vision: Siouxland Community Health Center is recognized as the first place patients and community partners identify and utilize as the resource for quality care. The health center is known as the premier leader in providing comprehensive health care services, as the employer of choice, and as a steward of resources entrusted to us.

These days, if one was to ask you describe Siouxland Community Health Center, a common reference may be that “it’s that big new building on 10th and Nebraska Street.” The new facility was a vision itself which came to life upon completion in January 2009. But what’s beyond the structure and through the doors is where the vision really becomes a reality. The new structure was indeed a milestone that allowed the health center to expand to meet the long term demands of growth and health care needs for the community. Through the doors is where compassionate and patient-centered health care is accessible to all and barriers are eliminated. From primary medical or dental care, pharmacy, behavioral health services, comprehensive care for HIV/AIDS, or language interpretation available in four languages, SCHC has opened its new home with pride to be able to serve the community in the best capacity possible. This has included building a strong and dedicated workforce of over 170 staff- a trend that is consistent with overall organizational growth. How does a community health center become an employer of choice? It’s a reward that goes beyond any face value. It is having the opportunity everyday to make an impact in someone’s life. To make it better. Healthier. And to offer hope to those facing challenge or despair. In March 2010, outreach staff at SCHC had the opportunity to meet with workers at John Morrell just weeks before plant closure. Through a series of informational meetings, staff offered information about programs and services available to them to ensure that even during significant challenge and change, health care access didn’t have to be a worry or critical choice. Through that experience, it became evident what the work of health centers are all about.

As health centers expand and Siouxland Community Health Center continues to demonstrate growth, being a steward of resources is critical. For 18 years, SCHC has built a strong community presence and partnership with many other organizations throughout Siouxland. Some of these accomplishments have included piloting a school-based heath center, bringing health care to the homeless, or women in recovery while caring for their children. To continue achievements such as these and grow programs and services within its new home, SCHC is excited for opportunities to come. On August 21st, SCHC will host a 5K Run and Fun Walk at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City to celebrate the work of health centers and serving all walks of life. The health center also looks forward to its first major fundraiser event in October, a progressive dinner themed “A Night on the Town,” an event that promises health center friends an enjoyable evening and the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of another- a child, the homeless, a friend or neighbor.

In summary, as one may reflect on what it means to be a community health center, or more specifically what it means to be a community health center in Siouxland, I hope that this reader may find a greater understanding of what is beyond the fresh bricks and infrastructure. It is a continuous effort to turn a vision into a reality. It is stewardship in bridging gaps to quality health care. It is a commitment to partnership in building a healthier community.

Cara Conrad
Siouxland Community Health Center
Guest Blogger

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