Sunday, July 21, 2024
Point of View

Two non-profit organizations making an impact in Okanogan County and the NCW region

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Family Health Centers serves Okanogan County and North Douglas County with medical, behavioral health, dental, pharmacy, and an array of other support services.  It's governed by a volunteer board of directors and led by CEO, Jesus Hernandez.  The same board and CEO provide parallel governance and leadership to a second nonprofit, non-clinical community-based organization doing business as Advance across all four NCW Counties of Okanogan, Chelan, Douglas, and Grant.

For at least ten-plus years, healthcare systems have been encouraged to broaden their scope of work beyond the traditional clinical focus that has defined "healthcare" for decades.  The role of nurses and other support staff has gained greater importance in primary care where a broader care team is needed to attend to social drivers of health.  This means recognizing and attending to the many social factors that impact the overall health and wellness of patients and communities collectively.  It also means looking more "outwardly" and engaging with partner entities beyond the healthcare sector seeking out opportunities to align resources and efforts conducive to efficiencies and effectiveness in tackling entrenched obstacles to healthier people and communities.  RNs are emerging in key leadership roles as they bring a clinical perspective to the broader care coordination nurses have historically done.  This focus on addressing "social drivers of health" is guiding the parallel work and functions of Family Health Centers and Advance as well as the many partnerships relevant to the services and initiatives underway in Okanogan County and North Central Washington.

The work involves a stronger focus on prevention, working upstream with key partners like our local schools, while not neglecting the importance of delivering high-quality access to care for the many complex and chronic health problems many patients face today.  It also involves important partnerships with law enforcement and judicial systems along with hiring people with lived experience to reach populations caught in the terrible epidemic of addiction to opioids and other addictive substances.  Together we are helping people start their recovery and restorative journey with compassionate care and support systems for successful transitions to a better life.

"How are the children?" is often a relevant question as we are mindful that youth and children are often caught in the troubling life circumstances that many adults are challenged to overcome.  Our nurses and staff are leveraging as many local resources, collaborating with all relevant partners, to optimize the support systems children and families need to thrive.  For most people, getting on the road to a thriving life involves receiving some grace, support and guidance in navigating support systems that help stabilize lives and re-engage in opportunities for self-sufficiency and self-pride.  Often these same people become champions for others in need.  In addition to the multi-disciplinary clinical services provided by Family Health Centers, staff at Advance are reaching and engaging many people in their own recovery and healing path, to better health and a better life.  Our nurses are leading the way in making "health" everybody's business so that Okanogan County and North Central Washington can be a healthier and thriving place for everyone.

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