The organization was incorporated on October 8, 1988. A community celebration was held with a capacity crowd October 3rd at the BHCW’s location, 3020 W. Vliet Street. Since its inception, BHCW has served as an ardent health advocacy champion. Patricia McManus, PhD, RN, has been the sole leader of this organization throughout BHCW’s 25 years. “When I began this journey I never envisioned this organization would reach this momentous occasion.” stated McManus. “We have worked tirelessly to be a voice for the voiceless and ensure that our community is seen as having problems but is not the problem.” BHCW provides culturally appropriate placed-based (providing services where the clients are) and community driven services while focusing on the attainment of the highest quality of life for African Americans and other underserved populations.
The Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin is a group of local organizations and individuals whose collaborative goal is to address the health problems of African Americans. The primary objective of the Coalition is to improve the health status of African Americans in the State of Wisconsin and to ensure equitable and comprehensive healthcare for all people. The organization’s theme is, “Without good health, nothing in life has meaning.”
McManus has led BHCW from the perspective of what is best for the organization and the people the organization serves. BHCW’s standing and stature over the last 25 years in terms of the service it has provided for Milwaukee’s African American citizens are all embodied in McManus’ passion and commitment,” stated Claude Gilmore. Gilmore and Dr. Wayman Parker established BHCW along with McManus. “In addition to celebrating the organization’s anniversary, we also celebrate McManus for her steadfast leadership and commitment.”
In keeping with the organization’s rich advocacy history, BHCW held a community forum on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during their 25th anniversary celebration. ACA related video messages were provided by Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Senator Tammy Baldwin at the start of the forum. Invited panelist for the forum included; Shirley Ellis, Senior Advisor for Congresswoman Moore; Senator Lena Taylor, Bevan K. Baker, City of Milwaukee Health Commissioner; and Catherine Leonis from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
“I was honored to be a part of the 25th Anniversary celebration for the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin. “This event is extremely timely given the recent opening of the ACA Health Insurance Marketplaces,” state Baker “Health insurance is the intersection between medicine and disease prevention. Having access to health insurance is an essential tool in improving the health of the public.”
The relevancy of the ACA community forum was further expressed by Senator Taylor, “The Affordable Care Act is an unprecedented and remarkable change to how health insurance and health care is administered in the United States. The act eliminates many of the difficulties of finding and keeping affordable insurance, and eradicates many of the discriminatory practices used by the insurance industry. Affordable Care Act puts the people first, by considering good health before profits.” BHCW was recently funded by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services through the National Healthy Start Association to provide education, outreach and enrollment assistance in Milwaukee County. BHCW also handed out the inaugural Community Health Champion Awards to individuals who provided significant support to BHCW throughout its 24 years. The honorees were; Mayor Tom Barrett, Lucille Berrien, City Treasurer Spencer Coggs, Alderman Joe Davis, Claude Gilmore, Janette Herrera, Karen Johnson, Rosie Caradine-Lewis and Congresswoman Gwen Moore. BHCW’s main program is the Milwaukee Healthy Beginnings Project (MHBP). This Project offers an array of services and/or makes referrals to help with infant health care, nutrition education, immunizations, outreach, fatherhood enrichment, case management, health education and community forums. The organization also has the African American HIV/AIDS program and the Wisconsin African American Eliminating Health Disparities Institute. The African American HIV/AIDS program provides comprehensive education and awareness through pastoral workshops, SISTA African American women HIV/AIDS groups, youth leaders workshops, task force and consumer issues groups, the annual Black Church Week of Prayer event and interventions for young men who have sex with men (MSM).
Through the Institute, BHCW held their 10th Annual African American Walk for Quality Health in June 2013. The agency can be contacted at 414-933-0064.
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