HCH Day and National Health Center Week

This year National Health Center Week is August 9 – 15, 2015; HCH Day is Wednesday, August 12.


What is National Health Center Week and HCH Day?

National Health Center Week recognizes and celebrates the opportunities that Health Centers provide individuals to receive health care regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.  Health Centers serve over 23 million Americans through more than 9,200 delivery sites in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. territories. One in every fifteen people living in the United States depends on their services.

This year Health Center Week is celebrated August 9th through the 15th.  Health Centers across the country will be holding events to show off their health center to the community, honor their staff, and engage with the community.

HCH Day 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.


Ways to Celebrate HCH Day

  • Promotion: Show off 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
  • Appreciation: 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
  • Advocacy: 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

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 been recipients of services provided by HCH projects, consumers are particularly credible in describing the value of the services based on their lived experiences.

For tips on organizing your HCH Day events, review our Planning Your HCH Day Webinar or visit the National Health Center Week website maintained by our partners at the National Association of Community Health Centers.  You can also reach out to staff at the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.  Katherine Cavanaugh, the Council’s Consumer Advocate, is happy to answer any questions you may have.  She can be reached at kcavanaugh@nhchc.org or by calling 443-703-1320.


Why We Celebrate HCH Day

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 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 way that seeks to address the interconnected health and social problems faced by most individuals experiencing homelessness. The work of HCH projects are vital to ensuring the basic health care needs of the vulnerable population experiencing homelessness, eliminating health disparities, and ending homelessness in our county.

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 meet those needs 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.


Spotlight: How HCH Projects are Celebrating

Family Health Center: Worchester, MA

Family Health Center celebrates HCH Day with an annual community health fair, which will occur on Friday, August 14th this year. Health center departments and community partners will have informational tables at the fair, including opportunities for blood pressure checks and vaccinations. Local farmers will be present to sell fresh produce in addition to other healthy snacks, sno-cones, and grilled corn. A number of children’s activities are planned as well including hoola hoop contests, jump rope contests, and meeting mascots from our local baseball and hockey teams. We will also be holding a raffle for gift baskets, backpacks and bicycles. Our local congressman and HRSA representatives will also be in attendance to help us celebrate and see the work we do with the community.

Let us know how you are celebrating National Health Center Week and 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, at kcavanaugh@nhchc.org.