The Consortium Core has selected Clarence Pierce, CEO of Hamilton Community Health Network, as our member spotlight. Read how Mr. Pierce is making a difference as a leader of his organization throughout the pandemic.
During this unprecedented time, Mr. Clarence Pierce continues to lead and carry out the mission of Hamilton Community Health Network. As the state was shuttering and medical personnel were faced with uncertainty, Hamilton continued to provide comprehensive, quality care for the underserved – by staying flexible but prepared, following expert guidelines and prioritizing employee and patient safety.
When asked about his biggest lesson he and his team has learned from the pandemic, Mr. Pierce reminded us about the importance of remaining flexible and agile, and be sure to take advantage of new opportunities, even at a time of uncertainty. “When things like this happen, we must be versatile enough to continue providing services even under the most difficult of circumstances.”
As such, Hamilton implemented new medical services that continued to fulfill the needs of Hamilton patients and the community. For instance, a few weeks into the pandemic, Hamilton launched Telehealth Medicine services for Hamilton patients. Telehealth provided a safe avenue to treat patients at a time they weren’t comfortable coming into a clinic. Plus with a limited number of personal protection equipment (PPE) for staff, telehealth actually helped to protect the workers and patients. A few weeks later, Hamilton launched a texting initiative that allowed us to remind patients of COVID-19 testing options. Then Hamilton launched drive-thru testing at two clinics.
The ability to launch new medical services during a pandemic is often unheard of. But Mr. Pierce credits Hamilton’s overall emergency preparedness and the ability of staff to quickly adapt to the rapidly changing environment. “We had emergency plans in place, and those plans helped us to be prepared and allowed us to continue providing medical services. Those plans also helped to open the doors to new services, such as our drive-through testing.”
The pandemic also taught us about the importance of credible information. New information about the virus is still revealed daily, and yet back in the spring new information was being released every hour some days. But with so much information and experts’ opinions often differing, Mr. Pierce discussed the importance of consulting reliable sources. “The CDC provided most of our guidance, in addition to our local Health Department, State and our state association, the Michigan Primary Care Association. These mediums have helped us develop and follow the proper guidelines.”
When asked what he was most proud of throughout the pandemic, Mr. Pierce didn’t hesitate to credit all the providers and support staff in the Hamilton Community Health Network. “I am tremendously proud of our staff. In spite of the fact that people were concerned and fearful about the virus – over what we didn’t and still don’t know – our staff continued to provide medical services our patients. Because of their efforts, COVID-19 did not affect our services.”
Mr. Pierce began his accomplished career in Philadelphia, with the first Medicaid managed-care program in the country. He believes the experience he received in his succeeding positions prepared him to be the CEO of Hamilton. “I realized that my passion was working with people who are excited about providing health care to people who need it the most. Working with individuals as opposed to contracts, as was my role in a different lifetime, is much more satisfying. It’s nice to know you’re able to impact individuals who are in need of access to medical services. Without Hamilton, many community members would not have access to healthcare. That personal impact is the ultimate satisfaction and enjoyment.”
Mr. Pierce has been advocating for better health in Flint for 15 years. We are proud to spotlight him in this month’s Consortium newsletter.