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Join Heritage Health in Celebrating National Health Center Week

by Mike Baker, Heritage Health CEO
| August 8, 2021 1:00 AM

Welcome to National Health Center Week. This is an exciting week for us and for health centers across the country.

It’s a time to stop and pause to reflect on the incredible work that health centers perform for their communities every day.

Here in North Idaho, we serve nearly 30,000 individuals every year in Kootenai and Shoshone counties.

Community health centers like Heritage Health play a key role in the communities they serve by providing medical, dental, mental health, substance abuse treatment -- along with a whole host of services.

All of this is designed to provide access to affordable healthcare so that people can live their best lives. The mission of Heritage Health is to deliver a healthcare experience that provides hope, inspires change and extends life for our patients and our community.

We take a total wrap-around approach to healthcare because experience has taught us that people are complex. They require a team of dedicated employees all working in unison for the overall health of a patient, and our community.

As a member of the National Association of Community Health Centers, we honor our mission, our employees, our stakeholders and our programs by homing in on what goes into the “Chemistry for Strong Communities,” the theme of this year’s commemorative week.

From my early career as an outreach worker to my current position leading Heritage Health and our clinics throughout North Idaho, I’ve seen that community wellness is only possible when basic human needs are met.

On Monday, Heritage Health will highlight our Street Medicine Team’s great work caring for those most vulnerable patients in the community. Our healthcare services for homeless and underserved community members include management of acute and chronic illnesses and injuries, immunizations and flu shots, dental and mental health screens and referrals, and connections to numerous local human services agencies.

On Tuesday, we celebrate local farmers who help feed the community. Our Registered Dietitian, Amanda Ament will focus on farm-to-table nutrition and how to prepare yummy dishes from local produce. Amanda works closely with many of our patients, coaching them to make healthy and sustainable choices.

Then, on Wednesday, we’ll showcase the folks who keep us coming to work every day: our wonderful patients. In the complexity of the healthcare system, many people don’t realize that in community health centers like Heritage Health, patients truly drive the work. One of the requirements of community health centers is that the majority of our board of directors are patients.

I love seeing our patients become volunteers and work alongside healthcare providers, who then bring people together to find the resources to provide care in the community health center model.

Today, millions of patients are served across the country by community health centers, which offer a refreshing alternative in a healthcare landscape that is increasingly driven by profit margins over people.

Thursday is devoted to our volunteers. As a nonprofit community health center, we are governed by an all-volunteer board of

directors. They give time, treasure, and talent to ensure that we are living up to the legacy created by our founder, Lidwina Dirne, and making medical, dental, and mental healthcare available to all who need it.

On Friday we honor our 300 employees. I have never been more proud of the team we have here. We have the best people on the planet working here. Every day they wake up with a desire to serve the community and save lives. They truly are the lifeblood of our organization, and I’m proud to call them friends and colleagues. I have seen the amazing people who work at Health Centers like Heritage Health.

Finally, on Saturday, Aug. 14, we look to the future of North Idaho and our nation by focusing on children’s health. Heritage Health provides comprehensive pediatric

care, and right now, we’re your one-stop-shop for back-to-school. From sports physicals to immunizations, Dr. Nicole Odom and her team would love to help make this your kids’ best year yet as they return to the ball field and the classroom.

Finally, let’s talk about growth. Coeur d’Alene has grown nearly 25% since the last U.S. Census, and we know many of the recent transplants are looking for a community clinic that puts patient wellness first, ahead of profits, and gives back in support of the overall health of our region.

We hope you’ll tell your friends, family, and neighbors about the excellent primary medical care that Heritage Health provides, regardless of insurance status.

Thanks for celebrating National Health Center Week with all of us at Heritage Health!