Wiltz and Drefchinski
Wiltz, Teche Action honored; CEO posted to trustee board
The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) has honored Gary Wiltz, MD, with the 2018 John Gilbert Award.
The award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a high level of excellence in the community health care field. It was presented at the 49th annual NACHC Community Health Institute & EXPO in Orlando, Florida, a national conference attended by more than 2,000 community health leaders from across the country.
Dr. Wiltz is a native of New Orleans where he received his medical school training at Tulane University School of Medicine. It was while a student at Tulane that he was awarded a National Health Service Corp (NHSC) scholarship. He came to Teche Action Clinic in 1982 as part of his NHSC service obligation, which required service in a medically underserved area. This three-year commitment turned into a lifetime of service by Wiltz to the people in the city of Franklin and throughout the state of Louisiana. He has served as chief executive officer since 2003. Teche is a network of 13 federally qualified health centers located in seven parishes,
In addition to his work at Teche, Wiltz has served on a host of health care leadership positions at the state and national level. He served as chairman of the Louisiana Primary Care Association (LPCA); chaired the National Advisory Council for the National Health Service Corps, and assisted the Health Care Transition Teams of former Governors Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco. He is also a familiar face at Capitol Hill briefings and press events, where he has educated members of Congress and their staff from a clinician’s perspective on the value of community health centers and their critical role in reducing health disparities, chronic disease prevention and lowering health care costs. He was honored as Medical Director of the Year for 1994-95 by LPCA. He was also chosen as one of only ten recipients nationally selected for the Robert Wood Johnson Health Foundation’s prestigious “Community Health Leadership Award” in 2011. Wiltz has served on numerous leadership posts with the NACHC executive board, including serving as chair in 2013.
“I think it is safe to say that on a daily basis we who are involved in the community health care field do so because we are committed to bringing quality health care services to those we are privileged to serve,” Wiltz said. “Working diligently around the clock, we are committed to ensure that the quality of health care that we provide to our patients is second to none. There is not a day – minute – or second that goes by that we are not fighting (either in the exam rooms or board rooms or legislative rooms) for those who have entrusted their lives to us.”
Wiltz and former CEO Alice Drefchinski, had a chance to sit reflect and talk about the future of Teche Action Clinic.
During the civil rights movement Drefchinski was a fighter for the rights of African Americans and worked her way across our country, landing in Franklin in the 1970s. In the early part of the 1980s as CEO she hired a young doctor finishing Tulane Medical School and made him medical director of Teche Action Clinic.
Fast forward to 2017, Teche Action Clinic has gone from operating in a small house to now 13 sites across southeast Louisiana and a 40-foot mobile clinic with an annual operating budget of over $20 million and employing over 200 people in six Parishes.
In what set out to be Wiltz honoring Drefchinski, she turned the tables and celebrated all of Wiltz’s accomplishments from his invite to the White House to meet with President Obama to his invite to the Kennedy Compound to meet with Ethel Kennedy, and being on every Louisiana Governor’s Advisory panel since Gov. Edwin Edwards. She praised his leadership and commitment to serving the patients of not only Franklin but taking Teche Action Clinic to 12 other communities to serve those in need and providing the quality and affordability of care.
America’s Health Centers are local, non-profit, community-directed and federally-supported organizations that provide quality health care to 28 million people in 11,000 locations. One of the bright spots in America’s health care system, health centers—started more than 50 years ago as a pilot project during the War on Poverty—-have now become the largest primary care system with a longstanding record of bipartisan support. Health centers also generate $24 billion in annual health system savings by reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and unnecessary visits to the ER.
Wiltz was also appointed chairman of the the A.T. Still University Board of Trustees last Julyn Vergennes, Vermont. He is past chair of the National Association of Community Health Centers, an organization representing more than 9,000 clinics serving 28 million people nationwide.
“As a new chair, I am honored these two highly qualified individuals have agreed to serve as trustees on the board and are willing to share their abilities to promote and enhance the vision and mission of ATSU,” Wiltz said.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Human Services is awarding nearly $60 million to community health centers in six hurricane-ravaged states and two U.S. territories, including a $337,400 grant to help Teche Action with hurricane disaster response
The new dollars announced today come from a disaster relief package included in the Bipartisan Budget Act, H.R. 1892 (115), which was signed into law in February.
The money was directed to a total of 161 community health centers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “These grants build on other HHS investments to ensure that health centers can continue to serve communities impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and strengthen their readiness to respond to the needs of the community after future hurricanes or other disasters,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.