Community outreach efforts help local healthcare providers build trust, share information to residen

FLINT, Michigan -- Every year, Hamilton Community Health Network hosts a ‘Family Fun Day’ to conclude National Health Center Week. The event serves multiple purposes. It celebrates healthcare workers, which is of particular importance considering the stress and trauma they have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also raises awareness in the community about services they provide in a fun and laid-back atmosphere.
Stacy Sawyer, director of communications and marketing for Hamilton Community Health Network, looks over the Family Fun Day at the main clinic on Saginaw Street for National Health Center week.
“This is just our way of thanking our patients for coming and basically allowing us to be their healthcare home,” said Stacy Sawyer, director of communications and marketing for Hamilton Community Health Network. 

This year’s event on August 13 felt especially important as a way to allow people to safely gather during the pandemic. Outside of Hamilton’s main campus clinic, tents filled the yard, kids played with balloons and coloring books, and the smell of fresh tacos filled the air. Hamilton’s role in the community has become a strong source providing medical, dental, pediatric, and mental health care. 

Hamilton’s main clinic services 30,000 patients a year. Sawyer is passionate in conveying to the community that, “We are open to everyone regardless of their ability to pay, whether you’re insured or uninsured, you can utilize the clinic.”

The event also helps Hamilton reinforce the message that healthcare and providers are distant or not in touch with the community at the on-the-ground level. Events and outreach that Hamilton consistently does is aimed at making their staff accessible and building trust with residents.

“My favorite part of today was seeing the young kids come to have fun,” Sawyer said. “Seeing the kids come to their health center for a good time and not just see their doctor or dentist. We do a lot of outreach activities in the community. Basically every weekend we’re doing something.” 

During National Health Center Week, Hamilton Community Health Network team members were able to visit homeless shelters, including the YWCA and the Shelter of Flint. During the shelter visits, Hamilton employees were able to pass out backpacks, school supplies, blankets, and snacks to kids. They also provided materials and information to parents.
Tasha Brown, 29, with friends and family, purchases ice cream at the Hamilton Healthcare Network Family Fun Day.At the Family Fun Fair, families were able to receive information from healthcare providers like Molina Healthcare and HAP. Several attendees also received their first COVID-19 vaccine during the event.

Another unique partnership for the event was with the Flint Institute of Music. A cellist and violinist from FIM provided live music for the attendants.

“We had two different groups here, so that was really exciting,” Sawyer said. “And that was new this year. We had Acoustic Funk here and they came and played all day long, so that was really fun.” 

Tasha Brown, a resident who attended the event, came with her family and was appreciative of the meals and information provided by the providers and partners at the event.

“Before today I didn’t know about the free COVID-19 testing here,” she said. Brown was able to utilize the testing and also enjoy the day with her family. 
Another unique partnership for the event was with the Flint Institute of Music. A FIM cellist and violinist provided live music for the attendants at the Hamilton Clinic Network's Family Fun Day.“We want the community to know that we are here to support them and we are more than just a doctor’s office or a dentist’s office,” Sawyer said.

Opportunities to provide information directly to the community helps Hamilton raise awareness of preventive care, education, and essential resources that healthy communities need.

Hamilton recently opened its eighth clinic last week, located in McFarlan Court Street Villages senior home. The clinic will be providing primary care to residents 55 and older from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. on weekdays. 

Sawyer is proud of the work Hamilton is doing in Flint and is excited about the specialty care the clinics are able to provide. Hamilton partners with University of Michigan and hosts UM physicians as highly trained and qualified providers.

“We aren’t just medical. We are dental, we are vision, pharmacy and counseling for so many,” Sawyer said. “Our doctors and nurses are top providers. We want to make sure that all of our patients are as healthy as they can be."

Read more articles by Jenifer Veloso.