Ahoskie, NC: December 4, 2023— The Board of Directors of Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center (RCCHC) announces the retirement of its founding Chief Executive Officer, Kim Schwartz, at the end of this year. RCCHC Board Chair Deborah Morrison said: “There is no question in our minds…Kim’s leadership, vision, and support of this work will forever be a foundation we can build upon. The global COVID-19 pandemic was perhaps one of the most challenging periods healthcare institutions have experienced in modern times. Kim’s leadership and keen support of the staff was exhibited during COVID just as it has been demonstrated throughout the organization’s growth and expansion.”
“This area will forever hold a very special place in my heart and I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to have had the honor to be RCCHC’s first CEO,” said Schwartz.
After being recruited from New Mexico to lead the organization in 2005, Schwartz guided RCCHC’s growth from a Federally-Qualified Health Center lookalike in one building to its current status as an award-winning, nationally known FQHC with 5 sites, 2 of which have pharmacies, one mobile unit, a farmworker outreach team, a school based health center, and a Dental Integrated Care site being built in Aulander. Part of that expansion included securing a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Facilities Improvement Grant of $6.2 million and additional partner funding to build 43,000 sq. ft. facility in Ahoskie expanding from 27 exam rooms to 48. In 2022 RCCHC served over 16,000 patients from their core counties of Bertie, Gates, Hertford, Northampton, Washington, and beyond and now has a staff of over 250.
Over her 19 years at RCCHC, Kim was recognized locally and nationally as an expert on issues important in rural health care delivery, especially Telehealth. She testified to Congress on more than one occasion about telehealth issues. For that and many other kinds of advocacy work, Kim was awarded the Robert J. Greczyn, Jr. Community Health Center Leadership Award in 2013 and the Cooke MVP Advocacy Award 2010, both from the National Association of Community Health Centers. “Kim has been a constant presence at our state association of community health centers and a tireless voice for rural FQHCs. We will miss both her expertise and her larger-than-life personality but we know she will continue to speak up for the medically underserved wherever she is,” said Chris Shank, CEO of the North Carolina Community Health Center Association.
Schwartz has also seen the long arc toward Medicaid Expansion in NC, which was finally enacted on Friday, Dec. 1. While all Federally Qualified Health Centers serve patients regardless of income or insurance status, Medicaid Expansion will allow RCCHC to be reimbursed for more of the services it provides to the area’s low-income residents. That reimbursement will allow for RCCHC to invest in more providers and more services for all of its patients.
Schwartz has been on the board of the Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation since 2018 and the OCHIN Board of Directors since 2019. She was appointed by the Governor to the NC Institute of Medicine from 2014 to 2019 and was its chair in 2017. She was the regional appointee for the North Carolina Medical Care Advisory Committee from September 2011- present. Locally, Schwartz has been on the Board of Visitors at Chowan University since 2018. She is a facilitator for the Center for Courage and Renewal.
Kim helped to establish the ECU School of Family Medicine Rural Residency Program – an ACGME certified residency program that brings Medical students to practice in Ahoskie and other rural areas of the state. She also led RCCHC to partner with ECU School of Dental Medicine for its Service Learning Center Site – Residency program, the first in the nation co-located FQHC and Dental Medicine residency program.
Schwartz holds an MA in Counseling Education and a BA in Psychology, both from the University of New Mexico. She lives in Colerain and has been married to her husband, Tom Schwartz for 45 years, and together they have two children, Rev. Andrew Schwartz and Anne-Marie Evans, and 7 grandchildren.
The board is actively working on a transition plan to support the ongoing leadership and success of RCCHC.