A heightened sense of urgency influenced flu season planning for 2020-21 across California. This was certainly the case in Los Angeles County – center of the state’s coronavirus surges since spring 2020. The specter of an influenza epidemic appearing on top of a COVID-19 pandemic meant that failure to plan was not an option. Over a span of months, existing connections between Los Angeles area hospital managers and County public health personnel matured into a coordinated approach.
Participants in the L.A. Hospitals Coordinated Flu Effort are unanimous
that a bigger accomplishment should be recognized. The coordinated flu effort is a model not only for future flu season responses in L.A. County – but for hospital-public agency collaboration in a range of areas. These include future influenza response campaigns in L.A. County and neighboring counties, the critical COVID-19 immunization campaign now unfolding and many more public health campaigns and population health strategies.
The California Hospital Association (CHA), the Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC) and Communities Lifting Communities (CLC)
have also played important roles in developing communication tools as well as the statewide, “FightFluTogether” public awareness campaign and supporting communications to ensure consistent messaging across participating organizations.
COVID-19 has brought unprecedented changes and challenges to the health care workforce. Prior to the pandemic, physicians, nurses and other caregivers were already experiencing record rates of workrelated
burnout or depression. Research on health care workers caring for COVID-19 patients during the pandemic shows an alarming increase in rates of anxiety, depression, insomnia and burnout.
“We’re living in a different world right now – everyone’s wearing masks, we can’t hug each other, everyone is guarded,” said Jeannine Loucks, MSN, RN-BC PMH, manager of the emergency clinical decision unit of the emergency care center at St. Joseph Hospital Orange. “We’re doing whatever it takes to get the job done for maintaining the safety of our
patients but it’s the uncertainty, the fear of the unknown, that’s difficult. Staff are asking themselves, ‘Am I going to bring the coronavirus home to my family? How do I manage my own fears?’”
Like other health care providers across the nation, St. John’s Well Child &
Family Center was blindsided by the COVID-19 pandemic when it first hit.
“We were responding, literally, minute by minute to something
none of us had ever experienced before,” said Jim Mangia, CEO of
St. John’s, which operates health clinics and community health centers
that provide care for patients at 18 locations in South Los Angeles,
Compton and Lynwood. “It was a horrendous situation. Everyone was
out there fighting for themselves, without any support from the federal
government. It was like having to build an airplane while you’re in flight.”
On Tuesday, June 30 we learned from a panel of experts from the hospital, community development and public health sectors to discuss best practices for collaboration on innovative community investment strategies. Speakers discussed how they are working to build partnerships between sectors, identify community health needs, and explore implementation of investment strategies in Southern California and across the United States.
Below are some key takeaways from the presentations
What are innovative community investment strategies?
The Public Health Alliance of Southern California, a partner in HASC’s Communities Lifting Communities community health initiative, issued a call this week for support of the region’s public health officers and officials — many who are enduring verbal attacks by opponents of face mask and social distancing mandates.
We are experiencing a unique period as a nation – where a number of historic events are unfolding contiguously. Just a few months ago, our lives were upended by a pandemic unprecedented in our lifetimes. As a result of COVID-19, the country is grappling with severe economic fallout. Then last month, the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis underscored the continued need for discussion about systemic racial and ethnic inequities that persist in our society.
Our hearts and minds, along with many of you, have been grappling with pain and grief at the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the innumerable other Black individuals whose names did not make national headlines. The fight against the dehumanization and devaluation of Black lives dates back generations, and the call for justice and equity rings as true today as it did for our ancestors.
Both the COVID-19 pandemic and police violence have taken the lives of Black people at disproportionate and unjust rates; an inequity rooted in the structural racism woven into the fabric of our institutions and systems. The premature deaths of Black people have laid bare what researchers and public health experts have long known: racism is a public health crisis.
The innovative community investment strategy models outlined in
the report have made a mark in multiple regions across the U.S.
but have been slow to spread to Southern California. Emerging
partnerships between public health departments and hospitals seek
to change that. Through a review of more than 100 resources and
case studies and 30 key informant interviews, the new report
identifies best practices where partnerships and investment
strategies address the root causes of health inequities and
improve community health.
Last week, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations, advocates, and policymakers across the nation were virtually celebrating the third-annual Black Maternal Health Week (April 11–17) and deepening the conversation about black maternal health in the U.S. While progress has been made, data shows that black mothers and their babies disproportionately experience higher rates of adverse birth outcomes compared to other groups.
Finding innovative solutions to support employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital is partnering with Sodexo to launch an in-house grocery delivery service – and is moving to the widespread use of iPads to connect patients with staff and family members.
HASC’s Communities Lifting Communities community health initiative regularly shares stories on innovative solutions to challenges that face member hospitals and their neighbors. To submit a story, contact CLC executive director Susan Harrington (below). While not every story can be developed into a feature, all will be carefully reviewed and considered.
This month USC Verdugo, in partnership with the food services provider, launched an in-house grocery delivery system. Employees can place grocery orders for staple items such as milk, eggs, fruits/vegetables, and frozen items twice a week. Employees pick up their ordered items in the hospital’s cafeteria and can pay with a credit card, cash, or payroll deduction. The program was piloted with 10 people recently, and the first week of operation it had 25 orders.
Close to 70 attendees joined HASC President/CEO George W. Greene, Communities Lifting Communities (CLC) Executive Director Susan Harrington and a slate of expert speakers at the Jan. 24 launch of Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies.
Held at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, the event went beyond a ceremonial kickoff with deep discussion on the issues impacting African-American moms that create significant contrasts in maternal and birth outcomes across color lines.
Dr. Deborah Allen of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health outlined the social and cultural influences that hit communities of color that can produce elevated infant mortality and other negative health outcomes for moms and babies.
Huntington Hospital is partnering with its Pasadena
neighbors—Young & Healthy and the Pasadena Unified School
District—to spearhead Trauma-Informed Care, a program designed to
address the impact trauma (both physical and emotional) has on
the community’s well-being and healthcare in general.
Trauma-Informed Care is an approach that involves understanding,
recognizing and responding to the effects of all types of trauma.
It emphasizes physical, psychological and emotional safety for
both patients and providers, and helps survivors rebuild a sense
of control and empowerment.
In many communities, hospitals are the only place where individuals experiencing homelessness can receive medical care. As California hospitals contend with the dramatic growth in homeless patients,
they must comply with a new state law (SB 1152) implemented in January
2019, which requires them to provide homeless patients a meal, clothing and vaccine screenings prior to discharge. Hospitals must also try to find homeless patients a bed at a safe destination, offer transportation and document the steps they have taken to do so.
Diabetes, heart disease and obesity are the top three health
challenges facing adult residents of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Community Hospital’s service area. But there’s another,
non-medical factor that also negatively impacts the health and
wellbeing of many who live in the South Los Angeles community and
can aggravate the severity of their chronic medical conditions –
For the 84 million Americans —that’s 1 in 3 adults—who have prediabetes, most do not even know that they have it. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal, greatly elevating the risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Prediabetes, however, can be reversed and presents a tremendous opportunity for prevention efforts. If caught early, simple lifestyle changes such as losing weight if you’re overweight, eating healthier, and exercise can have lasting results.
As some of the most vulnerable members of the community, patients experiencing homelessness are at risk of poorer health outcomes and often lack access to basic support in recovering from illness or injury.
Cottage Health, a not-for-profit system serving Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties, in partnership with PATH Santa Barbara, is seeking to address basic needs of these fragile patients through
the Cottage Recuperative Care Program. Launched as a pilot program with four beds in fall 2018 and fully implemented with 10 beds at the beginning
Close to 40 HASC hospital and system members and public health
officials attended the inaugural launch of Communities Lifting
Communities (CLC) in partnership with the Public Health Institute
regional training, Alignment of Governance & Leadership in
Healthcare: Building Momentum for Transformation, this
month. The free half-day training was held twice — on June 7
at Kaiser Moreno Valley and June 11 at Mission Hospital Laguna
HASC’s Communities Lifting Communities (CLC) initiative had a productive May, focusing on solutions to regional health disparities. On May 14, CLC — with HASC and the Public Health Alliance of Southern California — met with Los Angeles County health leaders to identify interventions aimed at birth-outcomes improvement.