Elected officials attend event marking passage of 19th amendment
In an event timed to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, Piedmont Health will invite elected officials to its corporate headquarters to formally announce the launch of a voter registration and Get Out the Vote drive targeting health center patients.
Scheduled guests include Congressmen David Price (D-Chapel Hill), State Sen. Ellie Kinnaird (D-Carrboro) and State Rep. Verla Insko (D-Chapel Hill.) Kinnaird and Insko were honored recently by a woman’s advocacy group as “fierce advocates for women.”
The officials will lend support to Piedmont Health as it launches its voter engagement campaign at Piedmont Health Services’ corporate headquarters. The event will be held at 299 Lloyd Street in Carrboro, NC on August 27, 2012 at 3:00 PM. Piedmont is one of more than 1,200 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC’s) around the nation taking part in the campaign, which is coordinated by the National Association of Community Health Centers as part of its ongoing Community Health Vote Initiative, a unique program that aims to build off the relationships health centers have with their 20 million patients.
“We chose Aug. 27 for this event to commemorate the anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in August of 1920,” said Brian Toomey, CEO of Piedmont Health, which operates six community health centers in central North Carolina. “That is the month that then-Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed into law the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. Almost 100 years later, women have come to play a crucial role in the electorate that every elected official must respect.”
Community health centers, whose mission is to provide affordable, high-quality care to the community, aim to provide care to residents who live in medically underserved areas. The centers accept most types of insurance and charge on a sliding scale, depending on ability to pay, and they aim to ensure that residents who are without health or insurance or underinsured receive quality medical and dental care. Piedmont Health also has full pharmacies in each of their health centers.
There are health center sites in more than 8,000 communities. The factors that make the centers’ relationship with their patients such a strong one include:
• Every organization is governed by a board consisting of at least 51 percent of active patients of the center plus other community leaders.
• The community-based nature of health centers and the relationship they have with their patients as their “family doctor” make them an ideal vehicle for communicating with and energizing their patients to become more involved in the electoral process that has a dramatic impact on their lives and those of their families.
Voter registration is nothing new for community health centers – they have been helping with voter registration for almost 20 years. However this program will take it to another level. It will especially look to target historically unregistered patients for registration. It also will involve a major effort to get out the vote for both for newly registered and already registered patients.
By making voter registration readily accessible and convenient for health center patients and engaging all the health center leadership and staff, from the front desk to the CEO to the medical providers, this program will offer health centers patients – who are statistically among the least likely to be registered to vote and engaged in the electoral process – a pathway to become more informed and civically engaged.
Piedmont Health is among centers with the staff and support resources to implement an even more intensive civic engagement program. This program aims to effectively implement measure and evaluate ongoing voter engagement and empowerment activities in locations with high numbers of unregistered voters. Among the program’s goals are:
• Create effective, sustainable voter engagement programs.
• Utilize and evaluate multiple methods of voter engagement and follow-up communications to evaluate their effectiveness.
• Promote and disseminate best practices for implementation at other FQHCs.
While focused on effective voter engagement leading up to and through the 2012 elections, this program has a longer-term focus of building ongoing capacity at FQHCs for voter engagement as permanent elements of health center activities. Under the program, voter registration activities will be established at each health center site to encourage and assist patients in registering or updating their registration, as well as opportunities for patients to sign up to be reminded when, where and how to vote.