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COPHP Student David Thomas Promotes Health Care Access via Amazon Neighborhood Health Centers

COPHP Student David Thomas Promotes Health Care Access via Amazon Neighborhood Health Centers

In 2020, Amazon partnered with Crossover Health, an expert in comprehensive primary care services, to establish local, convenient health centers near Amazon fulfillment centers and operations facilities across the country. The Amazon Neighborhood Health Centers provide full-spectrum acute, chronic, and preventive primary care, including same-day sick care pediatrics, prescriptions, vaccinations, behavioral health services, physical therapy, health coaching, and care navigation for specialty referrals and diagnostic services for Amazon employees and their dependents. Second-year COPHP student David Thomas is one of three Program Managers for the Centers, and works with his team to provide program management, community outreach, relationship building, data examination, operations development, and health education planning. 

Amazon built the Neighborhood Health Centers to be close by to where its employees live and work, a pioneering effort which has resulted in increased access to health care for Amazon’s thousands of workers and their families. David explains, “Exceptional primary and preventative care is the key to achieving and maintaining good health, but it can be incredibly difficult to find a good primary care provider. When I first moved to Seattle, I had not established a primary care provider. I got sick, and the most convenient place for me to go was an urgent care. I ended up paying way more than I would have if I had gone to see a primary care provider for what turned out to be terrible allergies. Emergency rooms and urgent care are expensive options that treat acute injuries/health problems, however, they overlook preventative care opportunities. We want to solve for that by providing low-cost, low-barrier-to-access health centers for our population.”

For David, his work with the Amazon Neighborhood Health Centers, and his MPH training in the UW Community-Oriented Public Health Practice (COPHP) program, have both reinforced a single message: center the public’s needs. As David explains, whether your client is a customer or a patient, “If you aren’t centering your client in your decision/intervention/appointment process, most likely, you are not going to attend to their needs. As public health professionals, we must work together and alongside our communities, to develop programs and products that work to better their health. When we identify what our communities are asking for, we can identify the best solutions: those that serve to reduce health inequities.” Simply put, “if we are not providing client-centric care, we are not doing public health.”

Over the course of his career, David has worked for a variety of health and wellness companies and nonprofits, including Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Public Health Seattle King County. He has primarily worked with populations who have been historically marginalized, as well as with at-risk workers (e.g., child care providers, front line workers). David reflects, “From an early age, I was aware that people’s opportunities to have good health, and good health care, were not equal. As I grew as a manager and professional, I developed what I like to call ‘empathetic leadership’: leading by example, having a deep compassion for people and their experiences, and galvanizing a community through shared goals. This is what I am bringing to the table for our Neighborhood Health Centers at Amazon.”

For David, his MPH training has greatly influenced the way he approaches his work and career. Particularly memorable courses include: Population Health with Kendra Liljenquist and Brett Niessen, Policy with Gerry Pollet, Quantitative Methods with Gita Krishnaswamy, and Evaluation and Community Organizing with Roxana Norouzi. Says David, “The COPHP problem based learning (PBL) curriculum was integral to my development as a public health professional. I have taken away lessons from each faculty member and put them into use daily. Particularly, COPHP teaches you how to work together with a team of individuals, who began as strangers, to develop a product for a client. This is a skill that is useful across any industry.”

Looking to the future, David says, “My life mission is to reduce barriers to access in health care and health education, and to create an atmosphere of kindness and compassion in every role I serve in. I am excited to continue that with Amazon.”

To learn more about David’s work, and the Amazon Neighborhood Health Centers, check out these recent press releases: 

https://press.aboutamazon.com/news-releases/news-release-details/amazon-makes-health-care-access-even-easier-employees-launch-new

https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/operations/amazon-pilots-opening-health-care-centers-near-its-fulfillment-centers

 

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