After nearly 40 years with this outstanding organization, this will be my last CEO message. I am retiring at the end of 2021. It’s an emotional moment for me, on a professional and personal level after pouring my heart and soul into CHI for so long.
As I look back at the milestones of my tenure here, I am so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish for the people of South Florida.
I arrived at CHI on May 14, 1984 after the Chairman of the Board, Odell Johns, recruited me as Executive Director. At the time, there were just two centers: The Doris Ison Health Center and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Clinica Campesina Health Center. The staff was comprised of county and CHI employees working side by side, a challenge in itself, that eventually we overcame.
These were difficult times. Most of CHI’s funding back then was coming from the county and annual budget hearings were trying.
I also learned that sometimes out of the ashes, new life can bloom. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed our community. But it provided an unexpected opportunity to expand healthcare. As a result of federal dollars, we were able to open health centers in the Everglades and South Dade farm worker communities. In addition, we were able to purchase the Martin Luther King, Jr. Health Center annex building and open a new site in Naranja. That was the beginning of phenomenal growth for this organization. Then, with the Affordable Care Act, opportunities for new access points became available. We leveraged that funding to open centers in West Kendall, South Miami, and Coconut Grove.
Also worth noting, in 2007 we expanded into the Florida Keys for the first time, at the invitation of Fisherman’s Hospital. Then, under the Affordable Care Act, we were able to establish a center in Tavernier. This led to the mantra of “we are always in a growth mode!”
Beyond new locations, I am proud of the new services that we have added over time. Today we provide a comprehensive array including primary care, pediatrics, OB/GYN, behavioral health for children and adults, dental, vision, pharmacy, a mobile dental unit and mobile medical van. We are accredited by the Joint Commission for primary care and behavioral health. We are recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a patient centered medical home. Plus, we have received numerous awards and recognition for the outstanding services that we have been able to provide to the community: the healthcare hero award from Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, recognition of phenomenal growth by Chamber South, and many more.
As I prepare for my retirement, I am confident of the continued excellence of service with the new President and CEO, Blake Hall. He has been with the organization for more than 16 years and has extensive knowledge of CHI and federally qualified health centers. In fact, he was recently appointed as secretary of the board of the National Association of Community Health Centers.
I will always have a special place in my heart for CHI and take pride in my continued affiliation with it.
Warm Holiday Wishes,
Brodes H. Hartley Jr.