Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pathway Recuperative Care: Caring and Connecting

Cedric has been homeless for 6 months and has spent nearly half of that time in the Hospital. A liver transplant and a subsequent bout with pneumonia left the young man weakened and in need of care that extended well beyond his hospital stay. Through a partnership with National Health Foundation (NHF) and a local hospital, Cedric was able to receive continued care at NHF’s Pathway Recuperative Care.

Like many individuals who have undergone major surgery, Cedric had countless follow-up appointments he needed to make and manage. For individuals who have a home and resources such as a car and family support, such care is challenging, but manageable. For individuals without a home, the demands of post-operative care are rarely met and subsequent hospitalizations are frequently necessary.

With the help of staff at Pathway Recuperative Care, Cedric attended all of his appointments and his health has taken a turn for the better. His strength returning, the staff then turned their attention to connecting Cedric with all of the resources available to him and to finding a permanent and stable housing situation.  “The concept behind Pathway Recuperative Care is to provide care to the whole person,” shared Shakoya Green, Pathway Recuperative Care Program Director. “First we provide a safe and comfortable temporary home with medical oversight so that the patient may heal physically. Then we look at the situation that led to the individual losing their home and their health. By addressing the social determinants of health that challenged the individual, we can arrive at a path to health.” For Cedric, there was a need to connect him with the Department of Public Social Services to apply for financial benefits. Then staff worked with Cedric to secure a permanent home. He was connected with his birth mother in New Jersey who flew to Los Angeles to bring her son home.

When asked how he felt about his nearly 2-month stay at Pathway Recuperative Care Cedric responded, “ I am feeling incredibly blessed to have been at Pathway. After being in the hospital as long as I have, it was nice to reconnect with people. After getting a liver transplant I feel like I got a second chance and Pathway helped me on my way.” Green added, “Pathway Recuperative Care demonstrates and puts into action the idea that home is health. Without a ‘home’, a person cannot thrive and be healthy. We are so pleased that we were able to connect Cedric with his family and walk with him on this part of his journey.”

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

At The Intersection of Health and Education: National Health Foundation’s Be A STAR Program

National research has identified a significant link between education and health. High school graduates live longer, healthier lives than dropouts. College graduates have even longer life spans, better access to health care, better dietary and health practices, and overall better health. Unfortunately, about a quarter of California counties have high school dropout rates close to 20 percent or more, including Los Angeles at 17 percent. While there are numerous factors contributing to the dropout rate, one third of female dropouts say that pregnancy or becoming a parent played a role in their decision to leave school. Girls most at risk for teen pregnancy are Latinas from low income communities. There is critical need for education and support services to reach these adolescent girls at the greatest risk for pregnancy and subsequent dropout before they get pregnant, ultimately breaking the cycle of teenage pregnancy. 

With this information, National Health Foundation has implemented the Go Harold’s Way; Be a STAR (Successful Teens Acting Responsibly) Girls Program. Goals of this program include reducing the incidence of pregnancy, improving high school graduation/completion and connecting participants to health and social services and resources in their community. Since its implementation, NHF has provided more than 700 students with the tools and education they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies and abilities to make healthy life choices. 

Haydee and Yvonne are two participants of the Be a STAR Girls program at Ramona High School and are set to graduate in 2018. For Haydee, the program gave her key information she did not have access to beforehand, “I learned there’s many ways to prevent pregnancy and learned all the parts of the female anatomy and what they do. I feel confident about my reproductive health because I’m more informed about different topics that we learned in class.” The weekly topics touched on birth control and STDs as well as how to plan for the future. Yvonne admitted that before being in the program, ‘ditching school’ was a chronic issue. “Before coming to Ramona I was ditching a lot of school and now I come to class every day and will graduate next year. My plans after graduating school are to get a job and go to community college to help me have a career later in life.” In addition to committing to her future, Yvonne has a deeper appreciation for her body and her health, “In the Be a STAR class we got to talk about our physical bodies and how a woman’s body looks on the inside. We also lean to be more confident about our bodies. I now know how to protect myself from getting an STD.”When not in school Yvonne enjoys playing basketball with friends while Haydee likes to try new things. Both students have expressed that this program has given them the confidence to be able to make healthy decisions when it comes to their reproductive health. After graduation, both Haydee and Yvonne plan to attend community college laying the path for their future careers.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

#SocialWorkMonth Profile: Sharonda Bazzell- O’balles, MSW, White Memorial Medical Center

Sharonda recalls the story of Robert who was in need of extra healing time after a hospital stay but who had also expressed an interest in conquering his substance abuse issues. As an individual who was without a home, Sharonda knew her patient could qualify for recuperative care, but would that be enough to keep him healthy and safe until room became available at a substance abuse program?

As a social worker at White Memorial Medical Center, Sharonda is one of the point people who, at the end of a patient’s stay in the hospital, sees to it that they are safely discharged. When a patient is discharged and they do not have a home to return to, Sharonda finds alternative solutions based on the patient’s most pressing needs. Some times the needs and the available services do not synch. Robert was a candidate for recuperative care and for the substance abuse program, but there was a significant gap between when his stay in recuperative care would end and the substance abuse program could take him in. The risk Robert was facing was a return to the streets and possibly missing the opportunity for the rehabilitation that he wanted to receive.

As a National Health Foundation Pathway Recuperative Care hospital partner, White Memorial Medical Center works hand in hand with Pathway staff to ensure the best possible outcomes for each client. For Robert, Pathway staff advocated on his behalf and they were able to secure additional time for him to stay at Pathway until a space became available for him at the substance abuse program.

Sharonda has found that many of her patients are not connected to the resources available, “The hospital routinely serves patients that have recently travelled to LA and are unfamiliar with the systems and how to access resources. I assist them by connecting them to the resources they need upon discharge.”  Navigating the many programs and options has given Sharonda a unique perspective on working with this vulnerable population, “ While it gives me comfort knowing that in recuperative care they are continuing to receive assistance during this moment in their lives, I would like to see an ongoing collaboration of agencies working together to close the gap in services and needs of our homeless population.”

Robert’s story is one with a happy ending. He recently completed his 90-day rehabilitation program.