Caribbean-American Executive leads healthcare change in Miami

MIAMI— Henry Thompson has a history with the Economic Opportunity Family Health Center that extends far beyond his tenure as vice-president; he was a recipient of center health services from the time he was a young child.

From the time Henry was one year old, the Economic Opportunity Family Health Center met all of his medical needs, from vaccinations to annual physicals.

Now as a rising young executive at the health center, his early days as a recipient of center services have informed his choices. Thompson looks to provide more than just basic healthcare services to the community.

He heads an ambitious project to revitalize Miami’s Northwest district, has plans to make the healthcare center more financially self-sufficient, and leads by example as a mentor to area youth.

Henry Thompson

Thompson’s mother emigrated from the Bahamas in 1976 in search of a better life for herself and her son. Working as a housekeeper, she was able to utilize the sliding scale fees for healthcare services offered by the Economic Opportunity Family Health Center. “I didn’t know then that it was federally funded for uninsured patients,” he said. “It was my doctor, same as anyone else’s. I got good care.” From childhood through high school, the health center was Thompson’s primary care provider.

After attending the University of Connecticut on a full tuition football scholarship, Thompson returned to Miami to attend graduate school and took a job with the Economic Opportunity Family Health Center in human resources.

Thompson worked his way steadily up the corporate ladder. Now, at 32, he is vice-president of corporate affairs, and he hopes to make changes that impact not just the health center, but also its mostly minority clients and the district it serves.

Thompson envisions a future where community health centers become financially self-sufficient, generating the revenue needed to expand and enhance services without relying completely on state and federal funding.

He is currently heading an ambitious project to revitalize Miami’s Northwest district by developing land owned by the healthcare center into a new corporate office center. The corporate office buildings would serve as a location for the healthcare center as well as for commercial, government, and retail tenants.

This public/private partnership would attract new businesses to the traditionally distressed, low-income area, revitalizing the district, and also generating long-term revenue to help provide for the healthcare needs of the district residents.

Thompson has worked diligently to change the perception of family health care centers. “The misconception is that health care centers are only for the poor,” he said, “or that all of its services are free. That is not the case at all.

Family health care centers are federally funded to provide needed primary health care services to the uninsured and underinsured. Payments are on a sliding scale, so they are affordable for everyone. Family health centers are a critical part of our nation’s health care system, providing services where they are most needed.”

Thompson also very active in the community, serving on the board of the Urban League of Greater Miami; the Barry University School of Natural and Health Sciences Advisory Council; and the Health Council of South Florida’s Information, Planning, Policy and Ethics Committee.

He is President-Elect of the Board of Directors for the South Florida Healthcare Executive Forum. And he makes it a point to volunteer with the Urban League, serving as a role model to minority youth. “It is important that they realize that not everyone makes it to the NFL, not everyone becomes a superstar,” he said. “But you can live a full life and make positive contributions to your community.”

Thompson’s vision is to change the face of healthcare in Miami, one child at a time.

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