The Alameda Health Consortium works everyday with people who serve low-income and uninsured people for improved health access, quality and outcomes. Meet the patients, providers, community members and programs that improve our lives.
May 11, 2017
May is CalFresh Month. Alameda Health Consortium (AHC) partnered with the Alameda County Social Services Agency (ACSSA), the Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB), and our member health centers to implement a 2017 CalFresh Awareness Month Campaign – “Connecting Children to CalFresh.” The campaign aims to address hunger and food insecurity by promoting the CalFresh Program to families with children. Partners hosted a series of outreach events to #KnockoutHunger! At Consortium health centers across the county patients received enrollment assistance to help stretch their food dollars with CalFresh benefits.
Wrapping up a month of food security awareness, on Wednesday, May 31, health center providers and staff took a hard look at how hunger affects health and what to do about it. Community Health Center Network (CHCN) and AHC offered resources and space for discussion through a timely continuing medical education program entitled Food Insecurity: What Providers Should Know… (Read more).
May 4, 2017
The Alameda Health Consortium led a successful Day at the Capitol in Sacramento on Wednesday, May 3rd, with dynamic participation and moving stories from community health centers. Our delegation made a clear impression on lawmakers. After leaving their offices, the Consortium received requests from lawmaker staff for additional information. The 35-member team of health center leaders, physicians, board members and staff, including community health workers – representing all eight health centers in the Consortium – look forward to carrying their energy forward as we continue to stay loud in the face of uncertainty. Read more.
April 3, 2017
On March 23rd, the seventh anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act, Alameda Health Consortium coordinated lunchtime events at 55 health center sites across the East Bay to congratulate community health center staff for their critical contribution to building healthy communities. Several elected officials, and representatives from 9 others, went to the various sites to thank the more than 1,500 staff gathered at the simultaneous noontime events to share how Medi-Cal expansion under the ACA has boosted their ability to serve people in their neighborhoods who would otherwise have gone without care.
“Listen to our patients: It’s working, it’s saving lives,” said Sherry Hirota, Chief Executive Officer Asian Health Services. (Read more).
March 8, 2017
February 3, 2017
Team-based care remains essential for patient care and for health center survival in these complex times. We face a shortage of primary care providers and our patients face continued medical and social challenges. Clinics are meeting this challenge in a variety of ways, including staff training in team-based care. The MA-Provider relationship, and the qualities and content of the communication between this dyad, are essential for patient-focused, efficient, equitable delivery of care and services. In many ways, MA-Provider communication is the heart of the team, hence the title of the program, Getting to the Heart.
Getting to the Heart was developed in 2013 in collaboration with Melanie Tervalon, MD, MPH, in her role as a consultant to LifeLong Medical Care around issues of cultural humility. Read more about Getting to the Heart.
January 30, 2017
For La Clínica panel managers Adriana Alcala and Ana Flores, data has a face. “You are taking care of the person, you’re taking care of the community. Not only do we work here, I live ten minutes away, so on the weekend or at church, I am literally seeing people in the community,” says Alcala.
Panel managers play a key role in helping the community to access preventative services at their local health center. “What I like to say is that I help the providers take better care of their patients. Sometimes some patients fall out of care. It’s our job to bring them back.” Panel managers reach out to patients by phone and in person to track progress on specific health issues. Alcala and Flores manage panels that include hypertension, diabetes, patients on blood thinners and patients with HIV. Read more about Ana and Adriana.
December 8, 2016
During her time with the New York City Health Department, Molly Hart witnessed the way health data can change lives. By analyzing data they collected, she and her colleagues could see health patterns across the city. “Data is what helps build the arguments for policy decisions that affect vulnerable communities. Access to safe parks and to healthy food, where freeways or factories are built – decisions like these have real effects on health outcomes, and without data, you can’t advocate for change.”
Now, as Healthcare Analytics Strategist at Community Health Center Network (CHCN), Hart sees the power of data in the East Bay. “We’re working with each of our community health centers to use data to better serve our patients. We need data to understand our patient needs and where best to utilize limited resources in order to provide the best care.”
With data in hand, patients and their community health centers have the power to beat back disease. When it comes to heart health, CHCN health centers are proving the point with positive results, increasing blood pressure control rates and exceeding targets along the way. For the past two years, patients who go to CHCN health centers receive more attention to improving their heart health through PHASE – Preventing Heart Attacks and Strokes Every Day. Read more about PHASE here.
November 7, 2016
“When I got into administration, my main focus and passion was in quality and increasing access to care,” say Amit Pabla, Chief of Quality and Transformation at Axis Community Health. “Without community health centers, (our patients) would have no access to care…and when we are able to meet a challenge or overcome a barrier, it means so much more than it would anywhere else.”
As a quality transformer, Pabla tracks how Axis is delivering care to its patients and sets up ways for his colleagues to act from that knowledge. “I think quality has evolved. Before, it was regulatory, how many charts did you audit, incident reports, etc., but now it’s so much more. It’s about ensuring that our access to care is spreading and getting to people who don’t know about us yet.”
The field of Quality Improvement, for Pabla, is for anyone who wants to learn about the healthcare delivery system and its impact. “Especially with payment reform it’s going to be on health outcomes and it’s going to be on HEDIS,” he says, referring to a type of data measuring managed care performance (Healthcare Effectiveness Data Information Set). HEDIS measures track hypertension rates, diabetes, immunizations, cancer screenings, and number of visits, among other indicators. Each measure has a target, and when health centers meet targets they receive an incentive payment from health plans. Read more.
October 25, 2016
Dr. Alaleh Zadmehr sees close up how sugar-sweetened beverages destroy teeth. As a dentist at Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center’s Silva Clinic, she treats children between the ages of 2 months and18 years.
Finding her calling in community health, she hopes to use her expertise to benefit vulnerable communities – and their teeth. “Since a very young age, I’ve liked working with kids, and always liked working with my hands, painting and drawing. I became very interested in dentistry. It’s a mix of art and science….I realized that, unfortunately, there are not that many dentists or pediatric dentists that take Medi-Cal insurance and work with underserved communities. I’ve found it very rewarding.”
At Silva Clinic, she sees many patients with early childhood caries, or tooth decay, caused by sweets, especially sugar-sweetened beverages. Parent and patient education takes priority. “We have a booklet that has pictures, and when they see it visually it helps them a lot – you see what happens if kids consume these beverages regularly. We try to explain simply how much sugar these beverages have. Children as young as one to six years old really only need 4-6 grams of sugar…this can of soda has 38-39 grams of sugar.” Read more here about Dr. Zadmehr and the health threats of sugar-sweetened drinks.
September 29, 2016
“I was very uncomfortable,” admits Dr. Lisa Yee of Asian Health Services, describing how she felt when treating patients with severe mental illness.
Rita Davis-Marten, a nurse practitioner at West Oakland Health Council shared Yee’s unease. “I felt very hesitant.” She recognized a disconnect between practice and her deep professional interest in mental health. “I wanted to get into the psychological aspect of care.”
Both Yee and Davis-Marten sought skills and knowledge through Alameda Health Consortium’s UC Davis Primary Care Psychiatry Fellowship. Dr. Robert McCarron, co-director of the fellowship at UC Davis, cites a shortage of psychiatrists and inadequate focus on mental health in primary care training. Read more here.
August 22, 2016
Community health centers go the distance to make sure that as many people who need care get it. Whether a patient is at risk for HIV or hepatitis C or has been diagnosed and needs medical care, Alameda Health Consortium (AHC) member health centers creatively reach out. Our HIV ACCESS and Get East Bay Tested! teams just wrapped up presentations in Washington, DC and Chicago where they shared effective ways they boost HIV and hepatitis C testing and linkage to care.
At the 2016 National Ryan White Conference, audiences learned how the East Bay linkage and retention network has developed protocols and tools, shared resources, and applied client-centered techniques to connect HIV patients to care.
They also shared the results for linkage and for the HIV testing initiative, Get East Bay Tested. For instance, the average increase in monthly testing rates at a health center following a work flow training was 40%. Linkage-to-care rates in Alameda County increased from 70% in 2012 to 73% in 2013, and among HIV ACCESS clinics the rates increased from 83% in 2014 to 94% in 2015. Read more about testing and linkage strategies.
Aug. 17, 2016
Cloteal Davis helped open the doors of West Oakland Health Council fifty years ago and continues to serve her community health center as a board advisor.
The LGBTQ Alliance at Asian Health Services created the first of its kind multi-lingual LGBTQ glossary to help providers improve quality of care for their patients.
Brenda Jorgenson, Executive Assistant at Axis Community Health, helped manage complex logistics to open a new site that has doubled the health center’s capacity to serve patients.
These health center employees and volunteers represent tireless commitment to improving health access, quality, and outcomes for the underserved. To recognize their contributions, as well as the contributions of many others across all eight AHC/CHCN member health centers, the Alameda Health Consortium and its sister organization Community Health Center Network hosted their annual Clinic Appreciation Awards as part of National Health Center Week at Jack London Square in Oakland on Friday, August 12.
Joining them, East Bay policymakers came to share views, to learn and to encourage. Keynote speaker California Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (District 15) described his own journey in community health as a social worker and now Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. Read more about the event.
July 29, 2016
Chair yoga class at the Wellness Center opened with seniors singing praises for Stephen Curry, Golden State Warrior and hometown hero. On the ground floor of LifeLong Medical Center East Oakland, people gathered in the Wellness Center to limber up, socialize and get vitals checked. The class is one of many alternative “medications” they can choose from to achieve wellness.
What if doctors wrote prescriptions for healthful food, for meditation, for congregating with others? What if patients had alternatives to a bottle or a vial, a device or procedure? Could common sense that your grandmother taught benefit your diabetes? Some grandmothers at the Wellness Center expressed thanks for being reminded of their own advice. Read more about the Wellness Center here.
July 22, 2016
“In my generation, a lot of us didn’t make it to 50. You don’t see a lot of trans elders – they either died in the streets through violence or alone with AIDS or HIV…We used to slink around in back alleys to get a [hormone] shot.”
Tiffany Woods directs TransVision, a program of Tri-City Health Center in Fremont dedicated to transgender health at a time when, despite increasing visibility and even celebrity status, transgender (trans) people continue to face incredible stigma and safety issues.
TransVision opened its doors in 2002 for HIV Prevention Services and added trans specific primary care services in 2010, providing care to now more than 370 transgender patients. With its own private entrance and a team of transgender staff, TransVision offers primary care and trans-specific care to its clients. Read more about the transgender health program at TransVision.
July 19, 2016
Meet Beatrice and learn about her life before and after DACA.
“It was really hard to see your mother right in front you in pain and not be able to do anything about it.” Beatrice was only seven years old when her mother’s untreated diabetes left her in a coma. Being undocumented and low-income limited the access to health care that she and her family needed the most. “Not being able to afford a doctor is what has kept my family and me away from taking care of our health.” Read more here. Illustration M. Lara.
June 28, 2016
Alameda Health Consortium (AHC) is one of 38 organizations in the nation to be selected for the Connecting Kids to Coverage campaign. The initiative will boost AHC’s strategic outreach to support enrollment and retention of children and their parents eligible for Medi-Cal and help families renew their coverage. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) authorized the awards aimed to build on the historic progress already made increasing the number of children with health coverage.
“We have a very effective team of Certified Enrollment Counselors at our member health centers who are well-trained and ready to get the work done to exceed our target goals! This MACRA grant is another opportunity to expand our outreach, enrollment, and retention efforts to make sure our community members have access to health care,” said Njeri McGee-Tyner, AHC Eligibility and Enrollment Director. Read more about the health coverage outreach award and strategies.
June 10, 2016
For Huong Le, Chief Dental Officer at Asian Health Services, a regular dental visit with a teenager drove home the critical connection between dental and mental health. “We took care of her teeth and I complemented how beautiful her teeth were, and she replied, ‘I don’t care, because I’m just going to kill myself.’”
After probing from Le, the young woman explained that she was a foster child, in a bad home environment, and depressed. “So, we stopped the visit to talk to her about suicide and the suicide hotline.”
Le points to the unique dental environment that opens up the potential for building trust. “As a dentist, our visits are usually long visits. So we get to know our patients. I’ve listened to a lot of life stories.” Read more here.
May 16, 2016
“I’d like to believe I’m serving as a healer, not just checking off the boxes like ‘Well, your cholesterol is this, so you have to take that.’”
To expand what it means to be a provider, La Clínica de la Raza’s Barbara Benzwi, MD explores ways she might incorporate mental health care into her practice. For someone with 28 years at La Clínica – the “abuela” of family medicine – she continues to find ways to improve care for her patients.
“We see a lot of people coming in with physical complaints that seem to be related to what’s going on in their lives…I feel reasonably strong in managing anxiety and depression, I don’t feel that strong in the more serious mental illness like bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia, and I don’t feel good about managing things like addictions or chronic pain.”
February 3, 2016
IT Specialist Cynthia Gallo shares how working at Alameda Health Consortium and Community Health Center Network deepened her understanding of the Affordable Care Act AND helped her enroll her parents and her community in health coverage.
May 10, 2016
“I felt very disabled. I didn’t feel competent enough to help my patients that have issues with mental health and psychiatric challenges.”
When Family Nurse Practitioner Ameneh Moghaddam comes up against an obstacle, she seeks the tools she needs and moves forward. At Axis Community Health, for example, she found that she was giving her all, but coming up short in treating her patients’ underlying trauma.
She sought resources through Alameda Health Consortium’s UC Davis Primary Care Psychiatry Fellowship. The 12-month fellowship involves two teleconference webinars per month, two in-person conferences, and one-on-one mentorship with faculty. The goals are to increase PCP comfort level for behavioral health patient care management, practice the collaborative care model, and coach other PCPs and team members on psychiatric treatment. Read more here.
April 29, 2016
Community Health Center Network Chief Medical Officer Laura Miller, MD recently shared why she chose a career in community health and what keeps her committed to providers and patients. Our interview follows:
For me, primary care has always been about social justice, about bringing high quality health care to people who haven’t had access.
After my studies in Ecuador in a small indigenous community, I returned to the US, completed pre-med studies and attended medical school. In medical school I applied for and received a National Health Service Corps Scholarship… I did my residency in Internal Medicine Primary Care and then when I finished my residency I had a very short list of places in the US that would fulfill the requirement for the scholarship I had received.
I ended up on a (Native American) reservation in Humboldt County, and really loved that work. When I came back to the East Bay, I was actually debt-free which was awesome! I wanted to continue serving the community, so I reached out and ultimately found LifeLong Medical Care, one of our clinics in the Community Health Center Network. I started working at LifeLong East Oakland in 1999, and I’ve been there ever since. Read more of Dr. Miller’s interview here.
March 4, 2016
Roberta remembers riding a bike. She shares this memory with Celina Ramirez, her CHCN Care Neighborhood case manager, during a home visit. Fresh valentine flowers from her husband grace the sideboard. Her Chihuahua mix puppy is upstairs, “So he doesn’t jump all over you.” Celina asks Roberta about her medications. A flicker of dismay crosses Roberta’s face, as she’ll have to climb the stairs again to retrieve them. But she prides herself on staying on top of her pill regimen. She wants to get on that bike again. Just getting to the point of being able to walk the stairs without discomfort motivates her.
Roberta descends the stairs carefully. In one hand, she carries her Wonder Woman vintage lunchbox. It’s filled with amber vials and reflects both her sense of humor and the power she attributes to her regimen. If she can manage this, she can be Wonder Woman again. The contents of the lunchbox, however can help and hinder. Roberta learned responsible pain management through the pain clinic at Highlands Hospital after bariatric surgery, but one of her medications indicates past use of opiates.
Read more about Roberta and Care Neighborhoods here.