Donna Thompson, R.N., M.S.
Chief Executive Officer, Access Community Health Network
When Donna Thompson joined Access Community Health Network (ACCESS) as Chief Operating Officer in 1995, she was very familiar with the difficulties patients faced due to lack of access to primary and preventive care. For more than 30 years, Donna has been on the frontlines of patient care delivery. Now CEO of ACCESS, a post held since 2004, Donna demonstrates daily how a focused commitment to high quality community health care can save lives, revitalize communities, and improve the health and wellness of patients of all ages and backgrounds.
Spearheading growth and quality at ACCESS
Through its mission, ACCESS provides high quality, comprehensive community-based health care in communities that might otherwise lack these resources. In her nine years as CEO, Donna has led ACCESS to become one of the largest federally qualified health center (FQHC) organizations in the country. ACCESS serves nearly 200,000 patients annually, 45,000 of whom are uninsured, in nearly 40 health center locations across the greater Chicago area including suburban Cook and DuPage Counties. In FY'13 with a $116 million budget and 300 medical providers, ACCESS is projected to provide its patients with more than 630,000 medical visits
and deliver close to 3,200 babies.
Under Donna's leadership, ACCESS has developed a model of health care that helps patients navigate the gap between community based care and other resources, both those in hospitals and in other community agencies. ACCESS operates four school-based health centers; six co-locations with community partners such as the Illinois Eye Institute, the Anixter Center and the DuPage County Health Department to better address its patients' comprehensive concerns. ACCESS is accredited by Joint Commission, and was recognized by the United Way of Metro Chicago with its Agency of the Year award in 2008 and with its Outstanding Leadership in Continuous Quality Improvement award in 2009. ACCESS was also recognized by the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois (NKFI) with its 2012 Gift of Life Award for diabetes awareness and education.
Championing early cancer detection
As a community organizer concerned with effecting change beyond the health center walls, Donna organized the Stand Against Cancer program in 2002, bringing together more than 1,400 women, elected officials and faith leaders representing every religious denomination, race, ethnicity and age group to advocate for increased funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings. As a result of this advocacy effort, the State of Illinois allocates nearly $4 million annually to the Stand Against Cancer program, to reach women in faith communities to promote early detection, offer screenings and follow-up care for those who are underinsured and uninsured.
On Mothers' Day in 2007, Donna launched Pin-A-Sister™/Examinate Comadre™, bringing together members of predominantly African-American and Hispanic congregations to recognize breast cancer survivors and provide key information about preventive screening. Through 2012, this faith-based breast cancer awareness campaign has reached more than 700,000 people in churches, community organizations and correctional centers during its signature events surrounding Mother's Day and touched more than four million individuals through media outreach efforts.
Donna was named a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellow in 2003. Donna has also been lauded by N'DIGO Magazine as one of Chicago's most influential women. She received the 2007 Chicago Athena Award for her leadership in expanding community health and was recognized as one of Chicago United's 2007 Business Leaders of Color. In 2008, she also received the Chicago National Organization for Women's 2008 Outstanding Community Leader Award. Donna serves on the Illinois College of Optometry Board, and is active in The Chicago Network. She is a 2010 graduate of the Kellogg School of Management's CEO Perspectives program. In late 2012, Donna had the privilege to be a panelist on a Chicago Tribune's forum on women's health issues.