Wednesday, Congressman Joe Courtney visited the Community Health Center in Enfield, CT for a frank discussion about health care, after participating in two forums about the successes and continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act at other venues in the district. He was joined by HHS Regional Director Christie Hager as well as several state legislators.
This was not the typical dog and pony show focused on a tour of the facilities, photo ops, and sound bites. Congressman Courtney and the State Legislators accompanying him were well aware of the importance of community health centers in addressing our nation’s health. Instead, this was an opportunity to talk about key underlying issues.
As an example, CHC has been a leader in electronic health records and telemedicine, which offers the ability for community health centers and others to provide important services to people that otherwise might have difficulty getting to specialists. Currently, there is legislation being consider in states across the country as well as at the Federal level which would facilitate the broader adoption of telemedicine.
The issue of the primary care provider shortage, which has been in the news a lot recently, was also discussed. Our residency programs, particularly the Nurse Practitioner Residency program, which is being replicated at community health centers across the country,were discussed as an important part of how to address some of the shortage problem.
A lot of the discussion centered on getting primary care to people earlier. Starting with fighting childhood obesity through our national Recess Rocks program, and continuing with programs like mobile dental and school based health centers, a key focus was on keeping people healthy and out of emergency rooms.
Other related programs were discussed. As an example, CHC, like other community health centers, rely on AmeriCorps members. It is an important program that helps everyone involved.
These sort of discussions, staying away from rhetoric and focusing on working together on addressing underlying health issues are crucial to improving health care in America, and we were honored to have such productive discussions with Congressman Courtney, HHS Regional Director Hager, as well as the state legislators that attended the afternoon congressional visit.