MCHC Health Centers Welcomes Katie Fairbairn to MCHC Board of Directors
MCHC Health Centers is pleased to announce the addition of Katie Fairbairn to its board of directors. Fairbairn is the executive director of the Mendocino College Foundation and the driving force behind 100+ Women Strong Inland Mendocino County, an organization dedicated to magnifying the impact of local philanthropy by pooling funds to support worthy causes.
Fairbairn was invited to join the MCHC board in part because of her dedication to community-building, but also because of her interest and experience involving health insurance benefits. Fairbairn has spent years advocating for people’s right to have health coverage, initially as an SEIU field representative and more recently by participating on the Mendocino College Employee Benefits committee.
“I like getting into the minutiae, figuring out what services people need, whether the formulary is being used versus the name brand, that sort of thing,” Fairbairn said.
Although Fairbairn has only attended a few MCHC board meetings, she said she is impressed by MCHC’s passionate, smart and thoughtful leaders and by the organization’s dedication to providing “the most needed healthcare to the neediest populations.” She continued, “I like to be involved in systems that work well. So far, it seems to me that patients get good care in a streamlined fashion and that MCHC’s leadership is focused on finding and filling gaps in community healthcare while remaining fiscally solvent.”
Fairbairn explained how difficult it must be for the leadership to find a balance between keeping costs down while providing excellent care. She is working quickly to come up to speed on the laws governing healthcare reimbursement for federally qualified health centers like MCHC and says she looks forward to being an ambassador and an advocate for MCHC.
“I’m just learning, so I’m not an authority by any means, but I think it’s important for people to understand what a resource MCHC is for local people, and to help our elected officials understand how they can support health and wellness in rural communities,” she said. She admitted that before she became a board member, she was unaware of all the services offered by MCHC.
“I liked reading the articles in the paper, but I didn’t realize what an incredible service MCHC provides,” she said. “Without MCHC, the hospital emergency room would be overrun. Patients would suffer more and get a lot sicker; they also wouldn’t get connected with other community resources like they do now. MCHC focuses on helping the whole person, not just improving someone’s medical condition.”
MCHC CEO Carole Press said, “We are very pleased Katie joined our board. She is such a dynamic addition. It’s also great to strengthen the partnership between Mendocino College and MCHC since we have so many of the same goals, like helping community members reach their potential, encouraging health and wellness, and supporting education.”
Fairbairn stated that Mendocino College Interim Superintendent and President Eileen Cichocki wholeheartedly supports Fairbairn’s participation on the board, echoing Press’s sentiments about the benefits of a closer partnership for both organizations.
Fairbairn is also excited to find more ways for the college and MCHC to work together. Currently, the Mendocino College Nursing program trains many of the nurses employed at MCHC, and many Mendocino College students benefit from the healthcare provided at MCHC. Fairbairn says she will continue to raise funds to expand Mendocino College’s allied health programs and noted that in 2020, the college will add a physical therapy assistant program.
Fairbairn also raises money for students in need through the Student Emergency Fund, some of whom get their healthcare at MCHC. “When people get the support they need, they can overcome really tough challenges. For example, in recent years a student who is a mother of two left an abusive relationship and we were able to use the Student Emergency Fund and partner with Project Sanctuary to keep her in school and moving forward towards her educational goal,” she said.
Fairbairn said it is stories like these that confirm she is doing the work she is meant to do. “I believe in giving back to my community and I believe that providing wrap-around services are essential.”
MCHC Health Centers is a local non-profit organization providing access to comprehensive healthcare for people in Ukiah, Willits and Lakeport. All MCHC health centers accept Medi-Cal, Medicare, Covered California insurance and other insurance.