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IPHCA: Working To Increase Access To Care
Community health centers provide accessible, comprehensive, high quality and integrated care to 28 million patients nationwide. They offer medical, mental health, dental, pharmacy and other vital services that keep individuals healthy and out of the emergency room, driving significant savings to the U.S. healthcare delivery system.
A truly innovative model of care that has been in existence for more than 50 years, Forbes recently highlighted the need for the continued investment in health centers that “will be an investment that will create an incredible return for our country.”
Our guest today is Jordan Powell, CEO of the Illinois Primary Health Care Association (IPHCA) which represents 380 health center sites serving more than 1.4 million patients. Jordan shares with us his journey into healthcare and the work being done by the IPHCA across the state.
Our Conversation with Jordan
AMP: You were a four-year track and field letter winner at Notre Dame. How do you feel your experience as a college athlete has impacted your success to this point?
Jordan: Studying and competing at Notre Dame taught me a lot about time management, remaining disciplined, overcoming adversity, leadership, competing at a high level, teamwork and dealing with failure. At Notre Dame, you are never just a college athlete. You are a student-athlete, and the expectation is that you will excel in the classroom and in your sport. You are pushed to strive to be the best, and that is the mentality that I still carry today.
AMP: How did you end up in the Healthcare Industry?
Jordan: I got my start in healthcare a little over six years ago after IPHCA recruited me for the position of Vice President of Governmental Affairs. At the time, I didn’t know much about IPHCA, but once I started to research the company and their mission, it seemed like the perfect fit.
I was raised by a single mother who worked multiple jobs to make ends meet while dealing with some serious medical issues. She is alive and well today because she had access to high-quality healthcare, so working in the healthcare industry and assisting the underserved is very meaningful to me.
AMP: Can you shed some light on the role of a Primary Care Association for those who aren’t familiar? What is it that you and the team at IPHCA do?
Jordan: We are like any other trade association that represents the interests of a certain industry. The IPHCA represents community health centers that provide medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, and other vital services to more than 1.4 million patients at 380 sites throughout the state of Illinois. We work with elected officials to advocate for continued funding and the passing of legislation to increase access to care. We also provide training and technical assistance in the areas of managed care, financial management, clinical leadership, operations, substance use disorder, quality improvement, and emergency preparedness. That is just a small snapshot of what we do.
In the next year, you’ll see IPHCA take on a greater role in educating the public about the value and impact of health centers in Illinois. We serve 1 out of every 9 residents of the state. Our quality outcomes exceed those of other providers, and we save Illinois 27% per Medicaid patient. With that said, many people do not know about the health center model of care. We are going to change that.
AMP: If you had to say what the IPHCA does in one sentence, what would that be?
Jordan: In all of the work that we do, our focus is to position our members to be the providers of choice within the communities they serve.
AMP: What has the IPHCA done that you are most proud of?
Jordan: That is a difficult question to answer, because I am so proud of all that we have accomplished, particularly in the last year. In July 2018, IPHCA faced a period of intense scrutiny and uncertainty. Our staff and membership really came together and persevered, and because of that, we are a much stronger organization today.
Most recently, in June of this year, we worked with the Governor and Illinois General Assembly to secure $50 million in health center capital grants so that our members can purchase equipment, upgrade facilities and build new sites.
But above all else, I’m extremely proud of our entire team of selfless individuals that work so hard to improve the health and lives of Illinois residents.
AMP: What is the biggest gap in healthcare today as you see it?
Jordan: There are many gaps, but I believe the healthcare system needs to do a better job of addressing social determinants of health. Nutrition, housing, education, and safety all impact someone’s health, yet as a system, we tend to focus on patients only when they’re within the four walls of a healthcare facility for what is typically a short period of time.
AMP: Have you seen the impact of the physician shortage the U.S. is facing? If so, what specifically are you seeing?
Jordan: We are seeing an increase in the time it takes to fill provider positions. Searches are now taking longer, resulting in a loss of revenue and coverage for many health centers.
Urban locations in Illinois are now feeling the impact of the shortage which has been felt in rural areas of Illinois for many years. In urban regions, there is an abundance of open provider positions so local hospitals, group practices, and health centers are competing for the same pool of candidates which is forcing FQHCs to compete against these larger employers.
Many positions are now often being filled by advanced practice providers such as nurse midwives, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and physician assistants (PAs). IPHCA is seeing the lack of physician applicants for positions available at Illinois FQHCs and an increase in the number of APRN and PA applicants which mirrors the graduation rates of these disciplines.
AMP: What books are you reading right now and which book has most influenced your professional career?
Jordan: I just finished business school in April 2019 so I don’t plan on reading for a long time! Dare to Lead is currently sitting on my desk and I hope to read it this summer. I wouldn’t say any book has influenced my professional career. It has been my family, upbringing, mentors and personal experiences. I’ve been fortunate to have really great people in my life that have influenced me more than any book.
Jordan Powell was appointed as the Illinois Primary Health Care Association’s (IPHCA) President & CEO in December 2018. Powell is the fourth CEO in the organization’s 36-year history and the first African-American to hold the title. He previously served as IPHCA’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Governmental Affairs for five years. Powell has dedicated his career to public service and during his tenure with IPHCA, he has worked closely with the Illinois General Assembly and United States Congress to advocate for policy initiatives and funding needs on behalf of health centers, positioning them as the providers of choice in their communities. His new role allows him to carry out strategic initiatives that include increasing public awareness of the needs of community health centers and positioning IPHCA as the state’s leading health care trade association.
Jordan has been named to the Springfield Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” list and serves as the Vice-Chair of the Legislative Committee of the National Association of Community Health Centers. He previously served as Deputy Director of Government Relations at the Illinois Press Association and worked as a Legislative Liaison for the State of Illinois. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science while he was also a member of the Fighting Irish track team. Additionally, he holds an MBA from the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.