HCH Day: Celebrating what makes us unique

This year HCH Day is Wednesday, August 16.


What is HCH Day?

HCH Day falls in the middle of Health Center Week, seven days of celebrating the Health Center program and its critical role in the health care safety net. Health Center Week occurs August 13 – 19 and is primarily organized by the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC).

HCH Day (August 16) specifically celebrates Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) Projects, which are considered special population Health Centers. Each year consumers and staff at HCH projects organize events to highlight the important services provided to individuals experiencing homelessness. These events allow HCH projects to build relationships with community partners, engage elected officials, and show appreciation for the consumers, staff, and communities that support the vital work of HCH.

4 Ways to Celebrate HCH Day

  • Demonstrate your value: Draw attention to your HCH center and the services that you provide
    • Have an open house or conduct tours of your HCH project
    • Hold a health fair and offer screenings or immunizations
    • Host a community meal or walk
    • Engage in outreach and inform individuals experiencing homelessness about services provided at your HCH project
  • Give thanks: Honor your staff and the work that they do
    • Hold an awards ceremony to honor staff, volunteers, and board members
    • Celebrate together with a staff lunch or afternoon of team building activities
  • Advocate: Demonstrate policies that have helped you provide care and identify needs in policy change
    • Invite elected officials to your events and to tour your facility
    • Hold a voter registration drive
  • Join the movement: Share your challenges and goals with the national HCH movement.

We encourage consumers and staff of HCH projects to work together in organizing HCH day events at their projects. As individuals who have experienced homelessness and received services provided by HCH projects, consumers can offer a critical perspective on the value of HCH.

For tips on organizing your HCH Day events, review our Planning Your HCH Day Webinar or visit NACHC’s website dedicated to National Health Center Week. Katherine Cavanaugh, the Council’s Consumer Advocate, is happy to answer any questions you may have. She can be reached by email or by calling 443-703-1320.

What makes HCH unique

Homelessness is a significant barrier to good health. Poor nutrition, inadequate hygiene, exposure to violence and weather-related illness and injury, increased risk of contracting communicable diseases, and the constant stress of housing instability all contribute to the health issues faced by individuals experiencing homelessness. Without housing, what many see as a simple scrape endured from falling down can become infected, routine colds can develop into pneumonia, and manageable chronic diseases such as asthma, hypertension, diabetes, and HIV can become disabling, life-threatening, and costly conditions. Rates of all illnesses for people experiencing homelessness are three to six times higher than those of other populations, and life expectancy is 30 years shorter.

HCH projects work to provide critical health care services in a comprehensive, team-based model that seeks to address the interconnected health and social problems faced by most individuals experiencing homelessness. The work of HCH projects is vital to ensuring the basic health care needs of the vulnerable population experiencing homelessness, eliminating health disparities, and ending homelessness in our country.

HCH projects work to provide accessiblequality, and comprehensive care.

  • Accessibility for people without homes requires some extra effort for health centers. Dispossessed people are often reluctant to seek services in a system that has failed on every front to meet their needs, and competition to have those needs met can keep them away from clinic doors. Many HCH projects take care directly to the streets and shelters, actively seeking out the most vulnerable of our neighbors.
  • Quality care for people who are unstably housed is attainable.  Good clinical practices like patient self-determination goal setting, motivational interviewing, and trauma-informed care are generating outcomes on a par with or better than the outcomes of other populations on measures like hypertension control.
  • Comprehensive care is possible in HCH because a multitude of actors collaborate with those inside the medical exam room to address the needs of the whole person, including mental health, substance abuse and social needs.  Many HCH projects are also involved in innovative treatment models, such as patient centered medical homes, permanent supportive housing, and medical respite care programs; which have the potential to lower system wide costs and improve the health and stability of homeless persons.

Reach out to Katherine Cavanaugh, Consumer Advocate, to let us know how you are celebrating HCH Day in 2017.

Spotlight: How HCH Health Centers Celebrated in 2016

Project H.O.P.E; Camden, New Jersey

Project H.O.P.E.’s mobile unit will be providing free health screenings in the community with an outreach table set up with light refreshments, small give-a-ways, health and nutrition brochures to raise health awareness.

Primary Health Services Center; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Primary Health Services Center will be holding a block party on August 9th for people experiencing homelessness and displaced public housing residents. The block party will have food, drinks, care bags, drawings and prizes; as well as onsite Medicaid application assistance services!

Cincinnati Health Network; Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati Health Network and their consumer advisory board have planned a hot dog cookout outside one of their clinics for all community members – both housed and unhoused!

La Red Health Center; Georgetown, Delaware

In partnership with The Ace Peer Complex and Tap Faith, La-Red Health Center will be reaching out to local tent cities and motels to deliver care packages, share information about services, and build relationships with their community.

New York City Providers of Health Care for the Homeless; New York City

New York City Providers of Heath Care for the Homeless is a coalition of HCH providers that celebrate HCH Day each year with a gathering of providers featuring an annual award in honor of the Community Health Association of New York’s President and CEO, Elizabeth Swain. This year the award will go to the Council’s very own Executive Director, John Lozier!

Kentucky Mountain Health Alliance; Hazard, Kentucky

Kentucky Mountain Health Alliance will celebrate HCH Day with a free hotdog lunch for client and people experiencing homelessness in their community at their Little Flower Clinic.

Let us know how you are celebrating HCH Day! 

What events are you holding in your community? Please send us information on events you are hosting, if elected officials will be in attendance, and your intended outcomes. After the event, please share with us stories from the day and photos. We will post some of the stories and photos we receive on this website. Send all material to Katherine Cavanaugh, the Council’s Consumer Advocate.