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Community Health Champions Blog


In general, when compared to other states, Texas has a higher proportion of small employers that are less likely to provide health insurance. That, coupled with a lean Medicaid program, results in Texas having one of the highest uninsured rates in the nation. With 18 percent of Travis County residents under 65 who are uninsured, Central Health has a pivotal role in addressing health inequities at the local level. On Feb. 15, the 1st Community Health Champions Workshop of the year took place at the Central Health Southeast Health & Wellness Center. The workshop was kicked off with an overview of Central Health and our Enterprise partners—CommUnityCare Health Centers, Sendero Health Plans, and the Community Care Collaborative (Central Health’s nonprofit partnership with Seton). Health Champions learned the history of Central Health and about Central Health today.

To lay the framework for the rest of the year, Health Champions listened to three presentations regarding health inequities in Travis County and the local region. Katie Coburn, Regional Healthcare Partnerships Manger at Central Health, presented findings from the 2017 Regional Health Care Partnership 7 Community Health Needs Assessment and discussed leading causes of mortality and major inequities seen in Central Texas—some of which include:

  • Affordable Housing and Migration
  • Economics and Health Disparities
  • Chronic Conditions, Prenatal Care, Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • Behavioral Health
  • Accessibility of Health Care and Transportation

Dr. Jaeson Fournier, CEO of CommUnityCare Health Centers, went through a high-level overview of patient analytics and how this data informs services provided by CommUnityCare. The process of the CommUnityCare Community Health Needs Assessment looks at differences and disparities in:

  • Prevention Quality
  • Vital Statistics
  • Access
  • Demographics
  • Clinical Indicators
  • Available Resources

JP Eichmiller, Director of Strategic Communications at Central Health, presented the highlights from the 2017 Central Health Demographic Report. The presentation outlined health disparities in Travis County, where current patients live, where they are projected to move in the future, and identified focus areas in Travis County:

  • Pflugerville
  • Northeast Austin
  • Manor
  • North Central Austin
  • East Central Austin
  • Colony Park/Hornsby Bend
  • Southeast Austin
  • South Austin
  • Del Valle

You may find bios of the panelists here.

Downloadable Presentations:

Central Health 101 by Ivan Davila

RHP 7 Community Health Needs Assessment by Katie Coburn

CommUnityCare Patient Analytics by Jaeson Fournier

Central Health 2017 Demographic Report by JP Eichmiller

Social Media Training by Ted Burton


On April 19, the Community Health Champions met for their second workshop of the year to discuss health care coverage and behavioral health disparities.

To kick off the workshop, Kit Abney Spelce, Senior Director of Eligibility Services at Central Health, talked about health coverage options and eligibility requirements. With options like the Medical Access Program and the Sliding Fee Scale program, Central Health helps uninsured Travis County residents get health care coverage. Community Health Champions participated in an interactive pop quiz, where they were given scenarios of individuals with certain income levels. Based on what they learned, they were tasked with choosing the health coverage option for which that individual was eligible.

Community Health Champions then participated in a panel discussion with Ellen Richards, Chief Strategy Officer, Integral Care; Dr. James Baker, Associate Chair of Clinical Integration and Services, Dell Medical School; and Dr. Alan Schalscha, Chief Medical Officer, CommUnityCare Health Centers.

Panelists discussed local initiatives related to disparities in behavioral and mental health like the E-Merge Program, which co-locates behavioral health services within a patient’s primary care medical home.

Downloadable handouts and presentations

Health Coverage 101 by Kit Abney Spelce

Know the Facts: Healthy Care Coverage

Know the Facts: Behavioral Health


Workshop III took place on Thursday, June 21 at the Seton Administrative Offices. Dr. Mark Hernandez, Chief Medial Officer and Executive Vice President of the Community Care Collaborative (CCC) gave us an in-depth look at the work of the CCC. In only a few years, the CCC has moved the needle on having a fee-for-service system to the beginnings of a value-based-care system. In addition, Health Champions learned about the four strategic focus areas of the CCC:

  • Build an Integrated Delivery System
  • Redesign Coverage Programs
  • Improve Value in Care
  • Optimize Health Coverage Population

After learning about the CCC, the group heard from the following panelists on program and initiatives that focus on supporting those at risk of or living with diabetes in Travis County. From preventive cooking and Zumba classes, to diabetes management courses, these local agencies are committed to supporting people fight this chronic disease.

  • Dr. Susan Dubois, Director of Endicronology, CommUnityCare Health Centers
  • Elizabeth Marrero, Program Director, Central Health Southeast Health & Wellness Center
  • Estephanie Olivares, Program Coordinator, Austin Public Health
  • Sarah Sebton, Program Manager, Community Care Collaborative

Downloadable presentation and handouts:


Know the Facts: CCC

Workshop III Bios + Upcoming Events


On Thursday, August 16, the 2018 Health Champions met for their fourth workshop at the Dell Medical School Health Discovery Building. John Daige and Robin Richardson from the Dell Medical School kicked us off with a presentation about the history of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin and the important partnership with Central Health. Health Champions also learned about the unique curriculum that has been built from the ground up as well as the purpose and success of UT Health Austin, the clinical practice of the Dell Medical School at UT. 

Following a short coffee break, Health Champions listened to a rich and diverse panel discussion about women’s health. Clinical and social work experts joined the conversation to share what Travis County is doing to address disparities in women’s health. Michelle Rountree and Jennifer Johnson-Dungey shared their experience and success with the Black Mamas Community Collective; Dr. Becky Rogers spoke about the need for perinatal redesign in this community; and Dr. Amna Dermish spoke to the hopeful future of Planned Parenthood with upcoming leadership changes as well as the barriers and successes of the long acting reversible contraceptions (LARCs) currently being offered at Planned Parenthood and CommUnityCare Health Centers.

Downloadable material:

Presentation slides

Dell Medical School Video

Know the Facts: Central Health & Dell Medical School

Women’s Health Issue Sheet

The Black Mamas Collective


The fifth and final Community Health Champions workshop took place on Thursday, October 18 at the Central Health Administrative office. We dove right into discussion with Brandon Wollerson from CommUnityCare Health Centers who outlined the history and background of HIV disparities in Travis County.

Following the short overview of HIV disparities in Travis County, Brandon welcomed our panelists to take a deeper dive into community organizations, health centers and services, and patient experiences related to HIV/AIDS. Organizations represented were Kind Clinic, Center for Health Empowerment, Austin Public Health and AIDS Services of Austin.

Other partners like the Austin Public Health’s Akeshia Johnson-Smothers from Austin Public Health shared with us the most recent HIV win for the community. On Wednesday, June 20, 2018, Austin joined 96 other cities world-wide and became the 18th U.S. “Fast Track City” — a city which has signed the Paris Declaration to end the AIDS epidemic. The Fast Track cities initiative is focused on improving prevention, screening, linkage to care, retention and engagement, and ending the stigma. On the conversation of stigma, Dale Thele, 2017 Community Health Champion and HIV/AIDS Advocate shared his experience living with HIV and the stigma that goes along with it. Dale mentioned that “there are two types of stigma involving HIV diagnosis – one from healthy people projected on people living with HIV, the other, is the person diagnosed with HIV projected against themselves.”

Health Champions also learned about services available for the HIV community. CommUnityCare’s David Powell clinic is the largest provider of HIV health services in Central Texas, serving over 2,800 patients annually. In addition, Austin’s Kind Clinic provides sexual health services including PrEP and PEP access. PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is the daily pill that prevents HIV. PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is a medication that prevents HIV within 72 hours of exposure.

After a wonderful discussion on addressing disparities in HIV, Central Health President and CEO, Mike Geeslin talked to the Health Champions about Central Health’s FY 2018 accomplishments and a forecast of the work ahead of us in FY 2019. In 2018, Central Health focused on service expansion efforts, population health and social determinants and improving communications and engagement initiatives. In 2019, Central Health hopes to focus on Eastern Travis County Service Expansion, Sendero Health Plans, and the Downtown Campus (Brackenridge).

Downloadable material:

Workshop V presentation slides

Dale Thele video

Workshop V bios and announcements