Good evening friends and colleagues:
Thank you for coming tonight, to spend some time with PCDC and each other in what has been an extraordinary and challenging last few weeks and months.
Before I continue, let me first ask the PCDC staff to stand and be recognized for all of their excellent work, commitment, expertise, and strength.
I have been thinking about what I was going to say tonight for a while. After going back and forth, I am going to say pretty much what I would have said before the election. But I want to acknowledge up front that the election will change our national context, that we have new challenges in front of us.
This election has both been divisive and has shown us how divided we are as a country. Now, more than ever, PCDC will be pro-actively assessing and learning, to understand what will be in front of primary care and community development, will work to help shape that dialogue, will participate in and build coalitions to promote our policy objectives, and to advocate against that which we find to be counter to our mission.
We have work to do.
The past year (since I started) has been full of discussion, planning, and strengthening our organization.
Here’s what has not changed: We are a CDFI, and a not-for-profit organization that champions primary care. We do this through our capital investment, technical assistance and policy/advocacy activities.
That was true in 1993 when we founded this organization, and it is true today. Thank you Founders! And Ronda Kotelchuck, our founding CEO!
But we have also changed.
Let me share with you our new mission statement:
PCDC believes that primary care is transformational and a cornerstone of healthy communities. PCDC catalyzes excellence in primary care through strategic community investment, capacity building and policy initiatives to achieve health equity.
To us, this means that:
Primary care is not only the medical care that doctor provides to a patient; or simply a technical discussion about HBA1C or BP management, or which birth control is right for you, or how to prevent or manage HIV.
We believe that primary care is all about helping people live healthier, longer lives in which they can reach their full potential.
Primary Care is early assessment of child development and helping families provide, and get the right services to support healthy development.
It is helping adolescents navigate those tricky years of developing identity and sexuality.
Primary Care is helping younger people – you know who I’m talking to — to adopt behaviors that will keep them healthy today, and tomorrow — when the idea of turning 50 or 60 seems so far away that taking action now for health later just seems ridiculous.
Primary Care means talking with women about their goals in life – including their reproductive health goals – and helping them get there, including but not limited to providing the right birth control, or helping them get pregnant.
Primary Care means making no assumptions about anyone’s sexuality or gender identity and helping all women and men get the care they need in a respectful and safe environment.
Primary Care means recognizing that adverse childhood events may precipitate asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, and therefore treatment must not only provide the right medication but also emotional and psychological support.
It means identifying health risks that are social and contextual such as poverty, housing need, family stability, and food security. And it means connecting people to community resources when (and preferably before!) they need them.
And when you (we, all of us, the community) have
- access to care that is person- and family-centered,
- accessible, affordable,
- with staff and providers that speak your language, and truly know who you are,
- in a place that is warm and welcoming, that is high quality by any clinical metric,
- and appropriately technologically enabled,
- then you have a community where a basic need is met.
We have work to do.
Our mission enables us, and really, requires us, to stand up against words, actions and policies that do not represent social justice, strong communities and health equity, that are racist, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, or anti-women.
And it means that we must stand for and work towards those words, actions, and policies which will bring us closer to healthy communities and health equity.
Is primary care the answer to all of our nation’s problems, especially in this challenging moment?
No, it is not.
But is primary care, one of the pathways to engage and strengthen and bring people together for a common cause of building strong, healthy communities?
Yes, it is.
Look, before the election, we had work to do.
More people have health insurance than ever before, but many remain uninsured. We believe that primary care is the key to health care delivery and payment system reform but in many parts of the country, there is insufficient primary care access, capacity and quality.
We believe that primary care and behavioral health should be integrated. But even with promising models across the country, access to behavioral health services remains limited, and integration with primary care is not yet routine.
We know that many people with multiple chronic conditions don’t yet get the kind of comprehensive, coordinated, and team-based care that we believe will provide them with the right care at the right time.
Our primary care system remains underfunded, with an insufficient workforce.
We believe that education, poverty, housing, violence, food security, and many more social conditions of life are critically important to health status and overall community health.
Primary care is only one part – but an important piece – of how we build healthy communities.
This is PCDC’s mission, and we have work to do.
We can’t do this alone. PCDC has 40 staff and 23 board members. But today, in this room, we have hundreds of people. And all of you work in agencies, businesses, and communities with many thousands and really, millions of people who also want and need and are working to create and support vibrant healthy communities.
If we are going to be successful in our mission, we need to talk with each other. We need to build a common agenda, we need to work together to create the world we want to live in.
We have work to do.
I am rolling up my sleeves. And I know you are doing the same.
We are forward looking, we are optimistic, we are realistic, we are resolute.
We’ve been at this for 23 years, and we intend to be at it for as long as it takes.
Thank you for joining us, and for your commitment to PCDC, to primary care, and to a healthier community and world.
Thank you to our staff, our board, to our Primary Care Champions Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez and Ann Monroe, our Founders, our many supporters, and to all of you here tonight.
I am honored to be with you tonight as always.