This post is part of a series that highlights Cambia’s unique Board Placement program, which works to match company employees with nonprofit organizations looking to grow their board of directors. A key part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility approach to giving, the board placement program has become one of the most impactful ways Cambia strengthens local communities and supports employees in their own volunteerism.
North by Northeast Community Health Center (NxNE) is the only medical clinic in Oregon devoted to African American/Black health. They exist to improve health outcomes and advance health equity by offering primary care services and health education and promotion focused on the African American/Black community. For Kilaa Slaughter-Scott, Cambia Project Manager and NxNE board member, the opportunity to help make health care more equitable and accessible to the people and families in her hometown neighborhood is driven by her love of community and commitment to service.
Why did you get involved with North by Northeast Community Health Center?
I got involved with NxNE because of the organization's deeply rooted commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of community members. Not just any community but my community. I am a native of northeast Portland. Twenty years ago, that area was the hub for Portland's African American residents. Unfortunately, a lot has happened to the neighborhood over the last two decades, which has left the wellbeing of many community members vulnerable due to the impacts of gentrification, other environmental and social and economic disparities.
There are not many places in Portland where Black residents can go where they feel the sense of community like it once was. Especially in health care. When Black residents walk into NxNE they are greeted and cared for by people that look like them. NxNE not only remains rooted in its community but in the people it serves.
My life's work is in health care, my heart is in community and my commitment is in service. I got involved with NxNE because I wanted to lend a helping hand in making health care equitable and accessible for all. I believe that healthy communities start with the health and wellbeing of its members.
What do you do as a board member?
As a board member, I serve to help establish, foster, promote and safeguard the mission of NxNE. We are individuals who bring together a balance of perspective and expertise needed to actively fulfill and engage in furthering the mission of NxNE. We take pride in representing the community that NxNE serves. In addition, we provide fiscal oversight of the organization and ensure financial stability for clinic operations.
Have you seen the impact that the organization’s work is having on the community?
For over a decade, the work of NxNE has greatly impacted and enriched the wellbeing of its community. Their efforts have been even more critical during COVID-19 due to the virus’ disproportionate impact on communities of color.
Since the pandemic began NxNE has:
- Distributed over $400,000 in direct cash assistance to patients and community members suffering financially because of the pandemic.
- Hosted three contact-less Safe Homes! Healthy Homes! events, dispensing PPE, hundreds of food boxes, gift cards, back-to-school packs and COVID-19 education.
- Distributed 75 laptops and 100 internet assistance cards to help bridge the digital divide for families across Portland.
- Outreached to hundreds of high-risk patients for serious COVID-19 cases to make sure they knew NxNE was there to support them.
Have there been any projects at NxNE that you’ve been able to help drive or felt especially proud of?
I am especially proud of the organization’s Cuts and Checks Barbershop Hypertension Program for African American Heart Health. NxNE has been relentless in their fight against uncontrolled high blood pressure. In 2015, they launched Cuts and Checks, a barbershop based blood pressure monitoring program.
The goal of the barbershop program is to advance health equity by engaging African American men in health care services, enlisting local barbers as advocates for community health and ultimately improving blood pressure management among African American men.
Barbershops that participate in the program sign on by taking the “Cuts and Checks pledge” to be heart attack – and stroke-free zones. Several patient ambassadors visit each shop monthly to offer blood pressure screenings, health information and to connect barbershop clients with services at NxNE. The organization also provides partner barbershops with an automatic blood pressure machine, training and offers incentives to anyone getting their BP checked.
Recently, I was honored to interview NxNE medical director Dr. Jill Ginsberg, Cuts and Checks program director Sharetta Butcher and Champions Barbering Institute founder Jamal Lane for an upcoming HealthChangers podcast on their great work with this initiative.
What does it mean to you for Cambia to provide the board placement program and how does it empower you?
Cambia’s board placement program is another example of its overall effort to live up to its cause and to serve as a catalyst to transform health care by creating a person-focused and economically sustainable system. The program also demonstrates that Cambia cares about the members of our communities while empowering their employees to help enable better health outcomes in places in which we serve.