Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Four Outstanding Individuals Join National Health Foundation’s Board

George W. Greene, Esq., John Calderone, PhD, Paul Lopez, and Jeffrey L. Thompson recently joined National Health Foundation’s Board of Directors. Greene, Calderone, Lopez, and Thompson are committed to reducing health disparities in low-income communities.

George W. Greene, Esq recently became President and CEO of the Hospital Association of Southern California. Prior to this position, he served for seven years as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii. Known as a consensus builder, Greene’s leadership philosophy is that family and health must come first for all individuals. He is the proud father of three children, ages 15, 13, and 19 months. National Health Foundation’s work with individuals experiencing homelessness, low-income teens, and at-risk youth is close to his heart.

John A. Calderone, Ph.D., former Chief Executive Officer for Olympia Medical Center in Los Angeles has over 40 years’ experience in the healthcare industry. He served on the Board of Directors for the Hospital Association of Southern California for over fifteen years, its Executive Committee for seven years, and as Board Chairman in 2014. He served on the Board of Trustees and its Executive Committee for the California Hospital Association. His personal experience of modest beginnings fostered his deep belief in educational mentorship, giving back to the community, assisting those less fortunate, and a sincere commitment to helping individuals who are experiencing homelessness.
Paul Lopez is the Senior Vice President, National Strategy and Development, with Prospect Medical Systems, where he is responsible for franchise model of care and clinical programs development, expansion, and management. Paul has a passion and affinity for underserved and vulnerable populations. His primary goal in life and work is to find innovative solutions that bridge gaps in access and quality care. In the healthcare arena, Paul successfully leads teams that deliver quality healthcare and programs to those most in need. His personal values, motivations, and compassion for those in need are closely aligned with National Health Foundation’s mission and vision.
Jeffrey L. Thompson currently serves as Associate Partner within IBM's consulting practice, having previously held roles as Vice President at the Walt Disney Company and VP, Digital Strategy at Conde Nast Entertainment. Thompson’s personal passion for leveraging advanced analytics to improve healthcare outcomes for underrepresented populations is well-matched to NHF's mission. Thompson hopes to leverage his media background to increase awareness of NHF's important mission. He has previously served on the Board of Directors of the Congressional Awards Foundation, student member of USC's Board of Trustees, and currently serves on the Board of Advisors of Digital Hollywood.

National Health Foundation’s mission is to improve the health of individuals and underserved communities by taking action on the social determinants of health and bridging gaps in the healthcare system. Its vision is that all people regardless of who they are or where they live, can achieve their highest level of health.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Flor’s Mini Market Gets Fresh With National Health Foundation’s Community Health Liaisons

Flor’s Mini Market is a neighborhood corner store that is one block from Thomas Jefferson High School in Historic South Central Los Angeles. It’s a favorite among high school students who frequently stop by to purchase a bite to eat before class or during lunchtime. Her merchandise mix is typical of a ‘tienda’ with must have home and personal products as well as some food and beverage inventory. Until recently, the food for sale was mostly packaged with few healthy food options. In a community that is both a food desert (with few healthy food retail choices) and a food swamp (categorized by a prevalence of unhealthy food outlets), markets such as Flor’s have come to represent unique opportunities and key potential partners in the effort to improve access to healthy, affordable foods in South Los Angeles.

Recently, Flor joined the Community Markets Purchasing Real and Affordable Foods (COMPRA foods) program, an innovative food distribution system that caters to small businesses that want to offer healthy food and leverages their collective purchases to secure better prices and quality products from wholesalers. During the first delivery of fresh produce last week, Flor was approached by a dynamic group of high school students known as the Community Health Liaisons (CHL). As part of  National Health Foundation’s (NHF’s) BUILD Health L.A. Initiative, CHL youth   
work with neighborhood markets to help corner store owners introduce healthy produce, and better merchandise fresh fruits and vegetables. CHL’s help store owners make small, gradual changes by providing technical assistance that can help overcome the challenge of introducing new inventory and taking on new risk.

Two CHL youth, Ariana Vega and Melissa Villarruel, ‘adopted’ Flor’s Mini Market to help the store owner adjust to the demands of selling perishable healthy produce and help to ensure changes are profitable and sustainable, with the overall goal of increasing the availability of fresh, quality fruits and vegetables in their neighborhood. During this initial meeting, the CHL’s helped Flor inventory produce shipment and begin using marketing strategies to promote fruits and vegetables in-store.  Together they carved out space in the store for the produce and used baskets and other materials to entice consumers to consider adding fresh fruits and vegetables to their purchases. Within a week, the students will check back with Flor see how things are going and modify their strategies as needed.

The students are keenly aware of the alarming prevalence of obesity, heart disease and diabetes in their community. For NHF, the BUILD Health Initiative presents an opportunity for partners to come together and improve the health of the community from within. By working with local high schools, NHF is able to directly connect with the energy of youth from the community. NHF brings CHL youth together with community partners such as Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN), Los Angeles Food Policy Council, and Los Angeles Department of Public Health among others to share knowledge and to craft innovative solutions to build a healthier South Los Angeles overall.  The students will continue to monitor their efforts to glean important outcomes, however, their efforts have already been well received by storeowners and the community alike.

For Ariana and Melissa, the experience of working with Flor left them inspired, “I felt really good knowing that we would be able to help her not only to sell her produce but also some of the other merchandise in her store,” shared Ariana. Melissa had this to say about her experience, “The level of excitement I had from helping Flor was inexplicable, it felt as if I were riding a roller coaster, or the feeling when you just learn to drive; it felt great!”

 To read Ariana’s account of her work with Flor, please click here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Increasing Opportunities for Exercise in Historic South Los Angeles

On February 13th, 2017, Central Avenue Jazz Park in Historic South Central Los Angeles was transformed into an outdoor fitness space with community members and instructors moving through workouts designed to increase cardiovascular capacity, boost energy levels and increase the feeling of wellbeing. For community member Claudia Durango, it was a welcomed event, “This is going to be really good for the community; we just need to continue having people show up.” The new program is part of the rollout of National Health Foundation’s (NHF) BUILD Health LA Initiative Community Action Plan for Historic South Central.
In 2016, NHF’s BUILD Health LA Community Health Liaisons, a group of local high school students and their mentors, surveyed the community to understand residents’ barriers to health. The results of the survey were captured in the Community Action Plan that aims to improve the health of the community through methods that have been identified by the community’s residents and that capitalize on partnerships and the assets available.
Historic South Central Los Angeles is 6 square miles, and is home to roughly 103,000 people. In this community, there are no gyms and there is only 0.4 acres of park space for every 100,000 people. Along with having limited access to open space, this community is considered both a food desert (with few healthy food retail choices) and a food swamp (categorized by a prevalence of unhealthy food outlets). Obesity and diabetes are common in this community, and while physicians recommend healthy eating and exercise, these lifestyle changes are challenging to practice with what is available in the community.
One of the needs the Community Action Plan addresses is for programs to keep residents physically active. Many stated that the classes that were available were too expensive and that the free programs had extensive waitlists of residents eager to join. We learned that these residents want to exercise and they will – if the opportunity is there.
As a result, we partnered with 3WINS Fitness, an innovative program spearheaded by Dr. Loy and Kinesiology students from California State University, Northridge. 3WINS Fitness “adopts” parks in Los Angeles, and sends Kinesiology students to teach community members how to exercise while nurturing a community mentality that leads to friendships, accountability and results!
In addition to 3WINS Fitness, NHF also partnered with California Hospital Medical Center, LA County Department of Public Health, LA City Parks and Recreation, Newton Community Police Station, All People’s Community Center, and A Place Called Home, to launch the fitness program. Classes take place Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at Central Avenue Jazz Park and All People’s Community Center.
Community members are thrilled with this new opportunity and have already built great rapport with the instructors from 3WINS. For NHF, the program represents a new way of delivering health to the community. “By creating an opportunity for the community to express their needs and actively engage in finding solutions to the health barriers they were experiencing, they are bringing about healthy changes from within,” shared NHF CEO Kelly Bruno.
Consistency is always the key with taking on a new behavior, but we are sure that with this new partnership and with the different components of the BUILD Health LA Initiative and Community Action Plan, the residents in Historic South Central Los Angeles will have new opportunities to live a healthier lifestyle.