In 2004-2005, the Consumer Health Foundation sponsored a series of Community Speakouts in DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia. The purpose of the Speakouts was to gather ideas and solutions from local residents about how to improve health and access to health care in their communities.
Ngozi Hall was one of the people that “spoke up” at our Prince George’s County Speakout. She talked about the struggles she and her husband faced as they tried to navigate the health care system. They were both uninsured, and her husband was sick, and they didn’t know where to go for help. She suggested creating a nonprofit, consumer-focused networking center for people who want to empower themselves with information about their health care options. This became one of the six recommendations the Foundation highlighted in its report, Speaking Up and Speaking Out for Health. We called it the Ngozi Project.
The Foundation spent two years researching how we would bring her idea to fruition. In that time, we talked to many frontline workers – people who were helping others in the community navigate the health care system. These were promotoras, social workers, parish nurses, hotline operators and school counselors. Some were volunteers and others worked in nonprofits. All expressed a need for information and tools that would help them do their work better. Our focus group report summarizes these findings.
We provided a grant to the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) to develop resources in multiple languages that would help consumers in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Region understand their health care options, rights and responsibilities. NHeLP had launched the Health Consumer Alliance, a health consumer rights and responsibilities project in California, and had created over 50 similar health access brochures for consumers there. NHeLP and CHF reached out to over 200 people to get their advice and input on these materials. Many of them are listed under key partners. NHeLP then undertook multiple steps to develop the resources, including gathering significant input and feedback from our local community. Whitman-Walker Health’s Legal Services Program also provided significant guidance and input in developing the materials.
The information provided through this website is a first step. We welcome your feedback on how we can improve and expand the resources provided.