National Association of Community Health Center’s Response to the Killing of George Floyd
Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center stands in solidarity with the Black community during this time, and shares the conviction of the National Association of Community Health Centers to be a catalyst for real change in order to protect and improve the lives of all people, regardless of the color of their skin, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
Statement from Tom Van Coverden, President & CEO and Lathran J. Woodard, Board Chair of the National Association of Community Health Centers on the Death of George Floyd
A Call For Change For All Americans
Community Health Centers stand with all Americans condemning the horrific killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. We are distressed, angry and afraid – especially for the men and women of color in the nation who face harm and discrimination simply by going about their daily lives. Because a 17-year-old girl bravely recorded this brutal murder at the hands of the police – no one – not even the most callous or indifferent – can now ignore what has been neglected and shunned aside in America for far too long. Mr. Floyd’s death, and the scores of those who have suffered similar fates, sadly are a part of a historical legacy of injustice and racism that pervades and is ingrained in our society.
Born out of the civil rights and social justice movement of the 1960s, the nation’s Community Health Centers serve to this day as advocates for quality care and health equity for all. As community-based health care providers to 30 million people in over 14,000 medically underserved communities across America, we are first-hand witnesses to the direct effect of violence, stress, physical and mental abuse on the health and well-being of our patients – people on the receiving end of racism and discrimination because of the color of their skin, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, income level or insurance status.
We as a nation must do more if we are to believe and hold true to the principles of our democracy. And we must do it together. We must usher in real change to protect and improve the lives of all people – from our local policing practices to our judicial and legal systems, to our educational institutions, to our health care systems. Most importantly, we must move forward public policies at local, state and national levels that reflect the true needs and priorities of a country in crisis.
Community Health Centers were created for and by the communities they serve. We are ready to work for real change. We are the catalyst for real change in this country; if not us, then who?
Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center (RCCHC) today announced an infusion of $50,000 in emergency grant funding from the medical aid organization Direct Relief, in partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers.
RCCHC is among 518 federally qualified health centers to receive funding this week through Direct Relief’s $25 million Covid-19 Fund for Community Health, which recognizes the profound effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the finances, services, staff, and patients of community health centers.
“Direct Relief has been a constant support for our health center, especially with hurricane emergencies, and now during this new public health emergency, and we are deeply grateful.”
said Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center CEO, Kim Schwartz.
RCCHC will use the funds to improve care provided during “Hot Spot” visits. In order to decreases the risk of contracting COVID-19 from a visit to the interior of a health care center, RCCHC patients have been encouraged to take advantage of telemedicine services. However, like most of rural America, access to broadband coverage in RCCHC’s service area is spotty at best, and many of the most vulnerable patients don’t have the capacity for a virtual visit. Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center’s solution is a Wi-Fi hot spot in each clinic parking lot, where identified patients are able to remain in their vehicle and complete a telemedicine visit with their provider via a smart device and internet connection provided by the health center.
With the funds from Direct Relief, RCCHC will purchase IPads, Otter Boxes to protect them, equipment to strengthen the internet signal to clinic parking lots, and software to improve patients’ privacy and security during each visit.
“Access to primary care is what keeps people healthy and out of the hospital, and the frontline work of Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center and other nonprofit community health centers across the U.S. is more critical than ever with the onset of Covid-19,” said Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe. “Direct Relief is doing everything possible to bolster the work and support the staffs at the safety-net health facilities on which so many patients and their families rely for excellent care and trust for advice in this public health emergency.”
Nearly 30 million (1 in 12) of the country’s most vulnerable residents -- including 1 in 3 individuals living in poverty, 1 in 5 Medicaid beneficiaries, and 1 in 9 children -- rely on federally qualified health centers like RCCHC for their health care. That number is expected to rise as more people lose employer-sponsored insurance.
“We are grateful for this critical and immediate support as Community Health Centers work hard to keep communities safe during an unprecedented pandemic,” said Tom Van Coverden, President & CEO of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). “We are also deeply appreciative of our longstanding partnership with Direct Relief in these uncertain times and their efforts to ensure that health centers confronting multiple challenges in underserved communities have the resources when and where they need them. We know that many donors and contributors have helped to make this fund possible, and we further extend our appreciation to all of them.”
About Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center: RCCHC, an FQHC since May 2005, provides comprehensive primary care and pediatric services with locations in Ahoskie and Murfreesboro (Hertford County), Colerain (Bertie County), Creswell (Washington County) and Woodland (Northampton County) North Carolina. As a designated Migrant and Community Health Center, RCCHC’s mission is to provide comprehensive care that reduces health disparities for the Roanoke Chowan area. Additionally, RCCHC staffs the Hertford County Student Wellness Center which operates during the school year and allows students to seek behavioral health services without having to leave campus, reducing absenteeism and in turn keeping students in the classroom giving them a greater chance to successfully complete curriculum requirements.
To make an appointment with an RCCHC provider contact:
Ahoskie Comprehensive Care – (252) 332-3548
Murfreesboro Primary Care – (252) 398-3323
Colerain Primary Care – (252) 356-2404
Creswell Primary Care – (252) 797-0135
Woodland Primary Care – (252) 587-3511
RCCHC operations are a HRSA Health Center Program grantee under 42 U.S.C. 254b.
On Wednesday, May 20, 2020 NC Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order No. 141: Easing Restrictions on Travel, Business Operations, and Mass Gatherings: Phase 2. The Order moves North Carolina into a Safer At Home “Phase 2” as of Friday, May 22, 2020 at 5 pm. It eases certain COVID-19 restrictions to help revive the economy while protecting public health.
It is important to stay home if you are sick. While in public, people should wear a cloth face covering, practice social distancing by waiting six feet apart from others while in public, and wash their hands or use hand sanitizer. High-risk individuals are urged to stay at home and travel only for absolutely essential purposes.
More information about what Phase 2 means for North Carolina can be found on the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ Staying Ahead of the Curve website: https://www.nc.gov/covid-19/staying-ahead-curve
The coronavirus pandemic forced providers to see many of their patients virtually. In rural North Carolina, where the broadband infrastructure is lacking, that transition can be challenging.
By Liora Engel-Smith
Though he doesn’t see patients face-to-face these days, Dr. Charles Sawyer still carries his prescription pad. The 87-year-old doesn’t often write prescriptions by hand anymore, but there’s something about the familiar feel of the pad in his coat pocket, he said.
Sawyer, a primary care physician at Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center, is a traditionalist. He dictates, rather than types, patient notes to be transcribed into electronic charts. And though his notes are readily available to patients through an online portal, he still sends his patients letters after every visit.
In recent weeks, Sawyer’s practice has undergone a seismic change unlike anything else he’s seen in his 55-year career. Sawyer is seeing all of his patients online or via phone.
Gone are the exam room chats and the listening to hearts and lungs — those are left to younger staff who are less at risk for developing COVID-19 complications. Instead, Sawyer sits at his computer at the center in Ahoskie, and checks in with patients by phone or via video.
Read more here: https://www.northcarolinahealthnews.org/2020/05/14/coronavirus-rural-telehealth/
Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center is ramping up its Telehealth program amid the current COVID-19/Coronavirus crisis.
We're still seeing patients for sick visits, but we do encourage them to call ahead.
Here's more on the program from a recent feature in the Roanoke Chowan News-Herald.