Advocacy is Key to Change Says East Jordan Family Health Center Board Member

By Natasha Robinson, MPCA Communications Specialist

Marcia Gibbard has left an impression as a board member at East Jordan Family Health Center. In her first few years of serving on the board of directors, Gibbard said she volunteered to pilot a prescription assistance program.

“The stories and the emotions I heard from some of the patients were so moving that I could not imagine the program never existing,” Gibbard said. “After approximately 18 months of running the program I sought out grant money to continue the program in my absence and eventually it became a full time paid position, and still operates today.”


East Jordan Family Health Center Board Member Marcia Gibbard has served on the board for nine years, and has been a patient of the Health Center since it opened in the ’70s. Contributed Photo.

Gibbard, currently vice chair of East Jordan Family Health Center’s board of directors, as well as the personnel and executive committee chair, has spent the past nine years serving on various committees to make the Health Center a place that truly addresses the community’s needs. She has been a patient of the Health Center since it opened in 1976 and joined the board at the request of a friend who is a former board member. Gibbard said she believes in the mission of East Jordan Family Health Center: “Our mission is your health.”

“I attended a meeting and realized that I could advocate for my community and knew I could support the organization’s mission wholeheartedly,” she said.

Health Centers are governed by a community board composed of 51 percent or more of the Health Center patients who represent the population served. This is one of the fundamental principles on which Health Centers were originally established and sets them apart from other providers of health care. Plus, board members volunteer their time.

Gibbard spends several hours each month making sure the Health Center’s mission is being fulfilled. She also serves on Michigan Primary Care Association’s (MPCA) Health Center Board Member committee as its chair. Her time spent advocating for her rural community of about 2,500 people has taught her that it is the best way to better the community and the services provided there, she said.

“Advocacy is important because it is the core of change,” Gibbard said.

The need for quality, affordable health care that East Jordan Family Health Center provides has greatly increased due to a spike in the area’s unemployment rate, housing repossessions, and number of uninsured residents. Behavioral health and drug addiction are also presenting challenges for the Health Center to address, Gibbard said. The Health Center serves more than 10,000 patients at its three medical sites and pharmacy in Antrim and Charlevoix Counties.

Gibbard, who will celebrate 31 years of marriage to her high school sweetheart later this month, has three adult children and three grandsons, plus a cat named Putter. She spends her days working as a hospital transporter for North Country Community Mental Health Agency and providing in-home care; and when she’s not working, she enjoys garage sales, metal detecting, camping, gardening, and volunteering. Gibbard has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and plans to use her degree to help people access medical benefits.

“We are heading toward some exciting times,” Gibbard said. “Knowing that I am on the front lines and having the support of fellow board members from both organizations and other Health Center boards, I am confident that we will be able to fulfill our missions and see our hard work flourish.”

Gibbard is looking forward to MPCA’s Annual Health Center Board Member Training, to be held later this month in Midland, Michigan, and said it’s so important that attendance this year “is a packed house.”

“It takes a full, active board to govern a successful Health Center that is capable of delivering comprehensive quality care. We need to be active with the potential Medicaid expansion and the new influx of patients we are expecting,” Gibbard said. “We need to be there for our organizations. ‘Building Better Boards’ is a great opportunity to energize your board members, old or new, into action.”


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