Sep 18, 2012

Secretary Sebelius Visits First Choice, Touts Our Model

Secretary Sebelius led a panel discussion on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, including the expansion of the National Health Service Corps, which assists health professionals to repay their educational loans in exchange for their commitment to practice in health professional shortage areas like New Mexico. The Secretary's visit came on the eve of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which First Choice CEO Bob DeFelice noted for Hispanic leaders' pivotal role in establishing First Choice 40 years ago.

"I can't think of a better place to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month than Albuquerque," the Secretary said, adding that nationally, 62 percent of patients of community health centers are Latino.  Secretary Sebelius recognized First Choice nurse manager Stella Saavedra, a nurse of 45 years, for assisting patients in establishing medical homes and accessing primary care so that they can practice prevention avoid the ER. "Thank you Stella and all the First Choice staff."

During her visit, Secretary Sebelius toured the South Broadway Health Center, which opened in January 2011 in a state building renovated with federal stimulus funds. The new center is one of several expansion projects that First Choice has completed over the past few years to increase its capacity to see more patients.See photos of the Secretary's tour and visit to First Choice here.

Nationwide, community health centers like First Choice are serving 3 million more patients than they were in 2009, thanks to stimulus and other investments through the Affordable Care Act. In New Mexico alone, community health centers have received $59.3 million to build new health centers or expand existing ones.