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Michigan Health Center Leader Takes Helm of National Organization

Friday, September 11, 2015  
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BETHESDA, MD –  Ricardo Guzman, Chief Executive Officer for the Community Health and Social Services Center (CHASS), in Detroit, Michigan, has been inaugurated as Board Chair of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) at the association’s 46th Community Health Institute (CHI) and EXPO in Orland, FL. The conference assembles thousands of health center leaders from across the country. Mr. Guzman assumes the chairmanship of NACHC at a pivotal time for the nationwide network of Community Health Centers which is marking its 50th Anniversary.


“What began as a group of small neighborhood and migrant health centers, is today one of the most dynamic parts of this nation’s health delivery system,” said Mr. Guzman in his address to conference attendees. “We’ve learned, we’ve adapted and we have responded to the diverse needs of the people we serve.”


Mr. Guzman also called on Health Center leaders to help to lead advocacy efforts and secure a stable funding base for Health Centers, advance initiatives toward health system transformation and underscore the value of Health Centers in an increasingly competitive health care marketplace. 


“It falls on us to prove our value every single day, to make sure decision makers understand that Health Centers are more than just a program,” he said. “We provide solutions that lead to better care and reduced cost. We are an asset. We can help states address some of the very issues that drive up their costs. We know where the cost drivers are for states, hospitals and specialists.”


Mr. Guzman is a longtime healthcare veteran with more than 45 years of experience. He received his Master’s of Social Work from Wayne State University and a Master’s of Public Health from The University of Michigan. CHASS, where Mr. Guzman has served as CEO since 1983, provides a full range of culturally competent primary health care and social services to the residents of Detroit, with special focus on reaching the medically underserved African-American and Hispanic populations. During his tenure Mr. Guzman has been successful in obtaining federal, state, and local governmental and foundation grant funding to expand health services to more Detroit residents in need. He successfully led a campaign to build a new $17 million dollar primary healthcare facility to replace the organization’s aging Southwest Center. He was also instrumental in the planning and implementation of several major community-level efforts to address diabetes, domestic violence and strengthen school-based health services. 


Mr. Guzman is an active member of the National Association of Social Workers and the National Alliance for Hispanic Health. He has received numerous awards including the National Hispanic Health Leadership Award in Washington, DC., the Zenobia Payne-Drake Humanitarian Award from the Detroit Black Family Development agency and the National Association of Social Workers; Michigan Social Worker of the Year Award for 2010.


Health Centers are local, non-profit, community-directed and federally-supported organizations that provide quality health care to over 24 million people in more than 9,000 locations. One of the bright spots in America’s health care system, Health Centers started 50 years ago as a pilot project during President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty and has now become the largest primary care system with a longstanding record of keeping communities healthy and reducing health care costs. Health Centers also generate $24 billion in annual health system savings by reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and unnecessary visits to the ER.


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