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Spotlight: Community Health Center Caregivers

Members of our affiliated Licensed Professionals at Community Health Services (LPACHS) last August ratified a historic first collective bargaining agreement and are among the newest additions to our labor family. 
Click here for photos from last year’s contract ratification vote.
LPACHS’ diverse membership includes primary care and speciality physicians, psychiatrists, dentists, nurses, hygienists, dietitians, social workers, substance abuse counselors and numerous other caregivers at CHS’ clinics in Hartford and Windsor. When these healthcare professionals initially began organizing in late 2012 there were no other unions representing private sector medical doctors in Connecticut.
“For us, forming a union wasn’t about higher pay or better benefits,” said Irv Buchbinder, DPM, a podiatrist with over 15 years of experience at CHS. “We came together for a voice in decisions impacting our patients and their families. Continuity of care is one of our clinic’s greatest strengths and we wanted a seat at the table with management so we could make it even stronger,” said Buchbinder, who also serves as LPACHS’ first president.
Community health centers (CHCs) like CHS focus on providing care for medically underserved and low-income neighborhoods across the country. Of the more than 22 million patients served nationwide, nearly 72% come from families whose income is at or below the poverty level.
Click here for more information on America’s CHCs.
The caregivers at CHS serve nearly 16,000 individual patients and handle over 90,000 visits annually to the non-profit organization’s two area clinics. While the majority are in surrounding neighborhoods, CHS is the source of primary care for residents throughout the Capitol region.
“Everybody deserves high quality care,” said Robin Gilbert, APRN, an advanced practice registered nurse in the Women’s Health department at CHS. “Ours is an underserved patient population. The care we provide makes a difference and establishes a relationship; together, we become like a family,” Gilbert added.
Gilbert’s comments echo the theme of this year’s National Health Center Week recognition efforts; “Celebrating Our Legacy, Shaping Our Future.”
Click here to learn more about NHCW and for additional resources.
“We do a great deal of work beyond the four walls of our clinic,” said Elaine Hamilton, RD, a registered dietician in the nutrition department at CHS. “We’re involved in community outreach with a focus on prevention. If we can help avert a health crisis, we’ve provided our patients and the community a valuable service,” added Hamilton (pictured above at yesterday’s event).
Hamilton’s comments illustrate how LPACHS union members see themselves as fulfilling the original vision of CHCs when they were launched 50 years ago. Then known as “neighborhood health centers” they were initially a pilot project put forward in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”
Click here to watch a brief video on the 50th anniversary of America’s CHCs.
The sense of mission our LPACHS union members demonstrate in their workplace and their community is no doubt shaping a a better future for thousands of patients and their families.

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