Thursday, January 19, 2017

Two Men, Two Paths

Arnie and Mat arrived at National Health Foundation’s (NHF) Pathway Recuperative Care from partner hospitals in early December 2016. Both were in need of additional medical supervision and both were homeless. The similarities in their cases ended there. The task of delivering essential care and helping the two men find stable housing required an individualized plan that took into account their stories, their needs and their goals.

Arnie's multiple chronic medical conditions require monitoring and medication, both of which are challenging to maintain on a modest monthly social security check. He found himself unable to pay for rent and his condition deteriorated until he needed to be hospitalized. Upon discharge from the hospital he was homeless and in need of follow-up care. At Pathway Recuperative Care, Arnie worked closely with staff members on his care plan. This plan looks at the patient’s needs both medically and with respect to housing. Staff then began connecting Arnie to services available to him via the Department of Mental Health as well as medical services to ensure continuous improvement on both fronts. With Arnie’s motivation and Pathway staff persistence, he was able to secure stable housing that will ensure a sustained return to health.

For Mat, the struggle was no less intense. He came to Pathway Recuperative Care from a partner hospital with no money, no identification and no home. Struggling to recover from substance abuse, the 20-year-old had spent years in the foster care system and found emancipation to be more difficult than he had the skills to cope with. Upon arriving at Pathway Recuperative Care, the staff worked with Mat to reapply for General Relief, obtain a replacement Electronic Benefit Transfer card and kept him proactive in attending the necessary medical and social services appointments that would ensure his return to health. The last piece of Mat’s health plan was to secure stable housing.  Mat’s stable housing is such that he will receive the support he needs to maintain his health while acquiring the skills he needs to navigate adulthood.

For Pathway Recuperative Care staff, each patient has a vastly different set of circumstances that has led to the decline in their health and the loss of their home. “Each person who comes to Pathway is seen as an individual with distinct health needs. We take the time to understand their history and work with them to devise a plan that matches their needs and capacity for managing their progress to sustained health," explained Kelly Bruno, MSW, President/CEO National Health Foundation. For Arnie and Mat, the prospect of an end to homelessness was welcomed with large grins and a sense of accomplishment. “We find it impossible to speak about health without addressing the most fundamental social determinant of health: housing. Without a home, there can be no health,” asserts Bruno. With secure and supportive homes both Arnie and Mat can now turn their attention and energy towards their healing and health.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

National Health Foundation Awarded Nearly $1 Million to Address High Obesity Rates in Historic South Central Los Angeles

National Health Foundation (NHF) was awarded $880,000 from the Los Angeles CountyDepartment of Public Health with funding from the California Department of Public Health and the United States Department of Agriculture. The grant will support the Champions for Change - Healthy Communities Initiative, which aims to reduce the prevalence of obesity among low-income Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education eligible populations by providing nutrition education, physical activity promotion, and working to create healthier environments for low-income individuals and families where they live, learn, work, play, pray, and shop.

Key efforts under the initiative include teaching fundamental skills such as cooking, reading food labels, shopping on a budget, growing fruits and vegetables, and introducing low-cost and fun ways to be physically active. In addition, champions in communities throughout the County will be identified to help improve access to healthier foods and increase opportunities to be physical active in a variety of settings, including early childcare centers, schools, faith-based organizations, corner stores, parks, worksites, and cities.   

“National Health Foundation is pleased to be a part of this County-wide initiative, as we are committed to improving underserved communities by taking actions on the social determinants of health,” explained Kelly Bruno, MSW, President/CEO, National Health Foundation. “We are working toward making notable changes in the community by working with students in schools, local corner stores and community partners to make healthier foods more affordable and available as well as identify ways to integrate physical activity into the day to improve the overall health for families in South Central LA.” 

According to the LA County: A Cities andCommunities Health Report, obesity-related chronic illnesses continue to rank among the top ten leading causes of premature death, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. While the obesity epidemic continues to impact virtually all population groups, roughly 29% of children and 37% of adults in South Central LA are obese, which is significantly higher than the rest of Los Angeles County. LA County black and Latino resident’s fair worse when it comes to obesity and obesity-related illnesses compared to whites and Asians. Thirty-two percent of Latinos and thirty one percent of blacks are obese in LA County, compared to 18% of whites and 8% of Asians. When it comes to South Central Los Angeles black and Latino residents, who make up 10% and 87% of the population respectively, the situation is no different. 

Reducing obesity is a priority of Public Health and a key objective of the Champions for Change - Healthy Communities Initiative,” said Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, Interim Health Officer of Los Angeles County. “By investing in our communities and the people that we serve, we are hopeful that we can make impactful, long-lasting changes for better health outcomes.”

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Winter Clothing Drive for Recuperative Care

National Health Foundation is hosting a Winter Clothing Drive for Recuperative Care Program participants. These men and women are continuing to heal after a hospital stay and are transitioning to stable housing after having been homeless. Many come to our program without the basic necessities such as a change of clothes and cold weather apparel. Kindly consider sharing what you can! We will collect donations through January 30th.

ITEMS NEEDED FOR DONATIONS (both men and women)

Underwear (bras, panties, men’s boxer shorts-30-32, 34-36, 38-40, 40-42, 44-46)

T-shirts: Medium, Large, X-Large and XXL, XXXL

Sweat Pants: Medium, Large, X-Large and XXL, XXXL

Sweat Shirts: Medium, Large, X-Large and XXL, XXXL

White Tube Socks: Women Sizes 6-10 and Men Sizes 9-12

New or Gently Worn Coats- All Sizes

We are accepting donations at our recuperative care facility at:
5136 W Washington blvd. 90016, on Monday through Friday, 9-4

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Partnering for a Healthier South LA

National Health Foundation (NHF) and partners know firsthand that to improve the health of individuals and underserved communities the work cannot be done alone. Collaboration is necessary, and forming multi-sectoral partnerships to align resources, leverage partnerships, and synergize upstream prevention efforts -  is key to building a healthier community.

Under the BUILD Health LA initiative, NHF and partners have come together to address the health disparities and inequities faced by the South Central LA community. Together, BUILD partners envision Historic South Los Angeles as a community that defies the odds and becomes an oasis of fresh, healthy foods and inviting urban space. The BUILD initiative attempts to build on past efforts to create an inviting community where youth, families and adults can access healthy food, be physically active outside, and are supported in maintaining a healthy lifestyle that results in decreasing the prevalence of obesity and subsequently diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, this partnership believes in the ambition and potential of the youth in this community. Central to this work, is the commitment and emphasis on youth involvement, empowering youth to take action towards improving social, environmental, and economic conditions in their neighborhood to impact community health.

At present, a new forged partnership with COmmunity Markets Purchasing Real and Affordable Foods (COMPRA Foods) has caused great excitement to the BUILD efforts. COMPRA Foods is a purchasing cooperative and produce distribution program designed to meet the needs of small grocers in low-income neighborhoods. COMPRA Foods was developed, and is lead, by Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN), the Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC), and the Asian Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA). The COMPRA Foods team will provide leadership to the BUILD initiative in engaging small markets to offer fresh, healthy food options.

Other BUILD Health LA partners include: Santee Education Complex and Thomas Jefferson High Schools who are providing access to youth for participation; 3WINS program at California StateUniversity, Northridge, who are providing kinesiology student volunteers to facilitate fitness programming; All People’s Community Center, A Place CalledHome and L.A.U.R.A., who will each host new fitness programming and will conduct outreach to the community to expose neighbors to the positive changes being implemented; and South Central Family Health Center and St. John’s Well Childand Family Center, who will conduct outreach, disseminate marketing materials, and food vouchers to drive community members to embrace the implemented upstream healthy changes in the community.

Through BUILD, the project team is moving South LA toward supporting healthier lifestyles. In
addition, by training and supporting youth Community Health Liaisons to drive much of this change, the project creates a cadre of local leaders who will understand potential for upstream improvements and have the skills to influence them.

Together, NHF and partners are TAKING ACTION to decrease the prevalence of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease in Historic South Central LA by creating new solutions to community health!

A COMPRA Foods van filled with healthy produce
Recently, NHF met up with Rudy Espinoza, LURN Founder and Executive Director, and his team at LURN Headquarters. Here’s what they had to say about the new partnership and how LURN’s work through COMPRA Foods, connects with the BUILD Health LA initiative.

What is it about the BUILD community action plan that is in line with LURN’s mission?
Alike the BUILD Health LA initiative, LURN is dedicated to binging people together to design, build, and promote sustainable communities that allow everyone to live to their greatest potential. For example, through the COMPRA Foods program, LURN is invested in finding creative opportunities to bring more fresh produce and healthier food options into underserved communities like South LA to build a healthier community, and a healthier Los Angeles overall.

What are the goals for COMPRA?
With little to no access to major grocery stores in neighborhoods like Historic South Central Los Angeles, COMPRA Foods aims to amplify the capacity of small convenience stores to carry affordable and healthy produce. Currently, COMPRA is a grant funded initiative, supported by funders such as USDA, the Department of Public Health, the Ahmanson Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation. “We have a vision that COMPRA can become the next stand-alone social enterprise, much like Amazon fresh, for local grocers and small convenience stores.” This would mean more access to fresh, quality, fruits and vegetables at a low-price for store owners, and residents alike, who frequent and shop at these local stores.
What has the community response to COMPRA been?”
Once in the COMPRA Foods program, small convenience store owners often see the value and cost savings of entering the cooperative. This is due by enlarge to the fact that small food retailers source their food products from "big-box" grocers, paying full price for these products and then marking them up for sale in their own establishments. This often occurs because entrepreneurs lack relationships with distributors who can deliver produce to their businesses at wholesale prices. Small and mid-size farmers who may be interested in selling their produce directly to these establishments also lack the relationships and efficient distribution systems that can connect them to the hundreds of stores in low-income, "food deserts”. This service gap between growers, distribution companies, and small food retailers impacts low-income consumers tremendously. Because there are few major grocery stores in some low-income communities, families are required to buy food at elevated costs found at small grocers who themselves lack low-cost alternatives to sourcing the produce they offer. In contrast, by entering the COMPRA Foods program, small market owners find support and are connected with small to large wholesale food distributors that provide them with the accessibility and affordability to sell fresh, healthy produce in their stores at a low-price to residents.

What does BUILD bring to LURN?
Through the BUILD Heath LA initiative, one part-time staff member will be hired to manage and expand the COMPRA Foods program to include 16 small markets within Historic South Central LA. Specifically, as a main focus in the first year, youth Community Health Liaisons and the project partners will conduct assessments of 22 local markets (out of the community’s 224 markets) to determine their viability and interest in participating in a food purchasing collaborative with expectations that a minimum of 16 will enter into the collaborative by the end of the first year. After three months of training, the anticipated goal is that each participating store will increase their healthy food options as measured by a cooperative order tracking system.
This supports LURN’s three-year program outcomes for COMPRA, which include: (1) engaging 60 small grocers and convenience stores in the Los Angeles Promise Zone area; (2) equipping 30 small stores to purchase produce and healthy snacks; (3) broker partnerships with 3 local farmers, produce wholesalers, and healthy snack purveyors; and (4) deliver food weekly to more than 30 small grocers and provide marketing and product placement assistance. This with an overall arching goal of reaching 30,000 residents and encouraging them to purchase health

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Healing Journey

When Frank was discharged from a Southern California hospital, he was in need of intensive follow up care; he was also homeless.

For hundreds of Angelenos who are without a home, a hospitalization can cause a momentary interruption of homelessness, but the reality of receiving follow-up care and healing on the street is such that many homeless patients find their way back into the hospital.

National Health Foundation’s (NHF) Pathway Recuperative Care offers patients like Frank a safe and supported environment where they can continue their healing journey and, thanks to our continuum Bridge Housing program, find a permanent and stable home to return to upon discharge.

Patients spend an average of 7-10 days in recuperative care and this respite often triggers a desire in our guests to find a stable home; however, the process is often challenging and takes a team of individuals to connect the guest with the best possible permanent housing solution. Since our program began in 2010, we have helped more than 3,000 formerly homeless individuals heal and nearly half find their way home.

On #GivingTuesday, we are inviting the community to donate generously to NHF’s Pathways and Bridge Housing programs. Your donations will provide taxi vouchers for patients to be transported from the hospital to our facilities, personal hygiene supplies, clothing and basic furnishings to help a formerly homeless individual make a house into a home.

For more information about Pathway recuperative care, click here.
For more information on Bridge Housing, please click here.

Friday, November 18, 2016

This Giving Tuesday, Give Teens the Power to Choose

Ty’Keese wants to be a mom someday. Just not right now.
Robert used to think that pregnancy was not really his problem.

Both Ty’Keese and Robert have participated in National Health Foundation’s Be A Star programs that offer at-risk youth in South Los Angeles high schools the type of frank and open conversations about pregnancy, sexual health, goal setting and personal responsibility that have proven to reduce teen pregnancy. After all, Be A Star’s motto is Be A ‘Successful Teen Acting Responsibly’!

Ty’Keese is currently attending Humboldt State University working towards her degree in psychology and Robert is in his last year of high school and serves as a mentor to other young men in the program.

The harsh reality is only 40% of teen moms finish high school and fewer than 2% finish college by age 30*. High school dropouts face unemployment, poverty – and shorter lives. Yes, you read that correctly. There is a significant link between education and health. High school graduates live longer than high school dropouts. College graduates have even longer life spans, better access to health care, better dietary and health practices, and overall better health.

Be A Star has provided more than 700 students with the tools they needed to prevent unwanted pregnancy and set a clear path to graduation and beyond. For teens who are already parenting, the program encourages students to complete high school, set goals for college and prevent any additional unwanted pregnancies.

“It is amazing to watch the young men and women in the program really step into themselves. They come in somewhat shy and unsure and by the time they complete the program they are knowledgeable and empowered. You can see it in the way they speak. More importantly though, you can sense the hope they have for their futures,” shared Be A Star program manager, Jeanette Pena.

All of the donations received by National Health Foundation on #GivingTuesday will be used to expand and improve our health programs such as Be A STAR. We’re hoping to raise $8000 to increase the number of participants we can serve. Click here to connect with our donation page.

Find out more about the Be A Star Boys from Raymond Diaz, program coordinator: Click here

*The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, “Preventing Teen Pregnancy is Critical to School Completion,” Briefly… (Washington, D.C.) July 2010

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Stories of Courage and Care: National Health Foundation’s Hospital Heroes 2016

The 2016 National Health Foundation Hospital Heroes Nominees
On Friday, November 4th, 2016, we celebrated the 11th annual Hospital Heroes Awards luncheon. Together with our Sponsors, Providence Health & Services, Southern California, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Cedars Sinai Hospital, Desert Valley Hospital and PomonaValley Hospital Medical Center, we heard the stories of 31 heroes who, through a deep commitment to care and community, have gone above and beyond the call of duty as nurses, doctors, support staff, health care administrators and volunteers. The task of choosing the three winners was challenging, to say the least.

 Mistress of Ceremonies NBC4LA's Beverly White, Shawn Aguirre,
Bryce Kulasxa and NHF CEO, Kelly Bruno

What makes Shawn Aguirre, nurse educator at St. Jude Medical Center a Hospital Hero? Perhaps Shawn's philosophy on nursing says it best: “On or off duty, I am a nurse. My purpose is to heal.” This past January, Shawn was on her way home when she saw two trucks, one hoisted on top of the other and legs sticking out from under one of the trucks. She immediately pulled over and ran across the street to see if she could help. A fourth-year medical student was also on the scene and the two devised a plan; he would go assess the young man’s legs and Shawn would climb under the truck to determine the rest of his injuries. “I noticed his name tag was still on his uniform, so I asked him if he knew his name,” Shawn said. “He was pale with shallow breathing. He kept asking over and over how he got under the truck and why his leg hurt so badly. He was clearly in shock.” For the next 30 minutes, Shawn lay under the truck to calm him while waiting for the paramedics to arrive. She did more than just assess his injuries clinically. She held his hand. She told him it would be OK. Bryce Kulasxa joined Shawn at the Hospital Heroes luncheon.

Beverly White, Tommy Covington and Kelly Bruno
Tommy Covington, RN, has worked the 7 pm – 7 am shift on the hematology-oncology floor of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles since 1975.  His tireless work ethic is driven by his motto: “I try to live in the now and let the future develop around me. Many of my patients succumb to their diseases. When there’s a remission or a recovery, we rejoice in that.” Covington has remained in contact with many Children’s Hospital families. One family, whose child died 20 years ago, joins him on fishing trips. “We email, we talk, and we reminisce about their child we took care of and the love we shared,” he says.  “Love is the reason I do what I do.  It’s painful when you have a loss, but I love my job.”  Upon receiving his award, Tommy was visibly emotional, sharing that receiving this recognition, just months before his retirement, was a beautiful way to celebrate his 46 years of service.  

Beverly White, La Verna McMiller and Kelly Bruno
La Verna McMiller, RN, BSN, MSN, from Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center San Pedro, manages one of the most challenging patient care units in the state, the sub-acute care center at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center San Pedro. Patients are transferred from hospitals throughout the state with gunshot wounds, terminal cancer, and other life threatening conditions. She urges her nurses to never give up on a patient and shares her motto, “Miracles do happen”. La Verna leads her team with a sense of optimism resulting in amazing outcomes for patients who were never expected to return home. “I’ve always liked working with these patients who I believe have the greatest potential of getting better. I don’t give up on them,” shares La Verna. La Verna manages this 125-bed specialty unit assuming both administrative and clinical oversight. La Verna is on call seven days a week and regularly comes in on weekends and evenings to meet with patient families and staff. She understands the value of recognition for her team and special events for her patients and makes sure that every birthday and holiday is a celebration. As we celebrated La Verna’s 27-year career, she vowed to become more educated so she could make a greater difference through her work.

For National Health Foundation, calling attention to the work of the health care community is one way in which we express our gratitude for the care and services of individuals, as well as for our partner hospitals. We could not do what we do without he formidable help of our partner hospitals and the heroes therein. As a nonprofit charitable organization, we also could not do what we do without the financial support of our partners and our community. The Hospital Heroes Awards luncheon is one way for organizations and individuals to celebrate the work of these heroes, while supporting NHF’s many important health initiatives in and around Los Angeles County.

For more information about National Health Foundation, please click here.