Cephas Namubiru Mugerwa was born in Africa – Kampala, Uganda to be exact. That is where her sense of community and being of service to her neighbor started. Her father was a local community leader in their village, and her parents would often host strangers who needed refuge from violence at home, who lacked shelter, or those who were grieving and just needed a safe place and someone to show them kindness. Though her family didn’t have much, there was never a hesitation to share their home, their food, and their hospitality. As Cephas set out on her own path, she carried that example with her and has dedicated her life to addressing inequities and disparities. In 2019, she earned her Masters in Public Health from Touro University and began a career in the field.
We spoke with Cephas about her journey, her passions, and the example she hopes to set for her own two children.
Tell me about your experience coming to this country.
I moved to this country with my husband. His sister was born in the United States, and she began the process of sponsoring her family to relocate many years before I met him. Shortly after we were married and had our first child, he had been approved for his green card. It was very hard for me to leave my family. I am the youngest of eight children, and my family is very close. I did not want to leave Uganda, but we did. We moved to Illinois to be near my husband’s sister.
A couple of months after we immigrated to the U.S., I conceived my second child. The fall and winter in Chicago were very hard for me. When I was in my first trimester, I got the flu and had to be hospitalized. As I recovered, I was still feeling very weak, and I decided to go back to Uganda where there was warmer weather and moral support from my family.
At the time, we did not have insurance or understand how to apply. When my husband started working, someone told him about a community health center in our town that subsidized health care, treated people without insurance, and helped them apply for Medicaid and other programs like WIC. He got us enrolled, and, when I came back to the US at 7 months pregnant, I started pre-natal visits with my OB/GYN from Streamwood Community Clinic.
How did you find OLE Health?
When we moved to California for me to pursue my degree, we didn’t know anyone. We had left the family we had in Illinois and were all alone. I figured that there must be a similar community health center like the one I found in Illinois. But, I wasn’t sure if community health centers were in every state, and I was not finding anything when I searched online. I was in school at the time and told a friend of mine about my search. Her mom used to live in Vacaville, and she asked her if she knew of any place you could get care without insurance in the area, and her mom said to look for OLE Health.
What stood out to you as an OLE Health patient?
As soon as I found OLE Health online, I drove right to the Chadbourne Road health center. I walked in without an appointment and explained my story to the receptionist. I told her about finding the community health center in Illinois and all the services I had been connected with there. She immediately gave me information about how to enroll in Partnership HealthPlan and WIC and made me an appointment with a provider. I fell in love with OLE that first moment, and that love just grew from there.
Can you talk a little bit about the Fairfield community and OLE Health’s place in it?
With OLE Health in our community, we don’t have to go to ER to seek treatment. OLE is fast becoming a one stop center for treatment of the Fairfield community members, because OLE Health gives wholistic care. The community members who seek care from the Fairfield location are directed to various community resources that are available in Solano County. I have interacted with patients who have been directed to the nutrition services of OLE health. Most of them had no idea they need to see a nutritionist, but they have gained so much from those visits after being directed by the staff at OLE.
What made you join the OLE Health board and what are your hopes as a board member?
I was asked to join the board during a very challenging time in my life. But I decided that I am going to give back. I am going to give OLE my time, because it was there when I had no one.
As a board member I aspire to build community relations between Fairfield community and OLE Health. I am extremely lucky to be a patient as well as a board member of OLE Health because this enables me make suggestions to the board on issues affecting patients and how to improve care for its patients. I am on the Quality Improvement committee actively engaging with Fairfield community members on how best OLE Health can serve their medical interests. Also, I’m honored to be actively involved in the strategic direction of OLE Health. I also hope to build community partnerships that will help OLE attain its core objectives as a Health care provider in our community.