10 Years of Heartland: A Vision Realized

Ten years ago, I walked through the doors of the Riverfront Plaza basement to a waiting room made up of fabric partitions and laminated signage, hoping to land an AmeriCorps position as the Outreach Coordinator. The walls were green, and the tiled floor was fading, a de-humidifier was running in the background – but I knew I was there for a purpose.

I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but I was about to embark on a journey of advocating on the fundamental principle that health care is a right, not a privilege. Over the past decade, I’ve seen teams grow and strategies evolve, but what has remained constant is the commitment to care. 

Community Health Centers, at the root, are designed to address the social injustice of inequitable health care that exists in our country. People should never be denied access to care, affordable medications, therapy, dental care, or a social support system. Medical bankruptcy should never be a fear that prevents a person calling a doctor. Lack of insurance should never keep a person from receiving the preventative screening exam that they need. America is a country that spends the most on its health care system and has the poorest health outcomes of any industrialized nation. We can do better. We must do better. 

Behind the chart that contains the medical history, diagnosis, and insurance status, is a person that awaits the clinical guidance and wrap-around support available at community health centers like Heartland. It’s people like you – people that have committed their careers to being moved by mission, people that show up when everyone else walks away, people that mask up and carry forward, that are changing the lives of our neighbors. 

We are part of reforming a broken system. There is great impact when we roll up our sleeves and commit to the work of serving our neighbors and advocating for institutional change. 

Most people don’t realize they are part of making a vision a reality when they are in the middle of it. We have seen Heartland drastically improve our community by providing a local, accessible, affordable, and high-quality system of care. Let me be the one to say this today — the vision that was set before us more than a decade ago is now a reality, because of the hard work and dedication of our staff. And now, we get to be a part of growing it to reach new heights and serve more people than ever before. 

So, here’s to celebrating community health centers and the difference makers, that make this possible every day!


Picture of Rachel Hartford

Rachel Hartford

Chief Operations Officer
Heartland Community Health Center

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Rachel Hartford, Heartland Community Health Center

"We have seen Heartland drastically improve our community by providing a local, accessible, affordable, and high-quality system of care."