Stories

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.

 

Using Data to Beat Back Disease

December 8, 2016

Upper left: CHCN Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Laura Miller. Right: Molly Hart. Bottom, CHCN Quality Management Manager Xiao Chen and CHCN Quality Management Coordinator Irene Nu

Upper left: CHCN Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Laura Miller. Right: Molly Hart. Bottom, CHCN Quality Management Manager Xiao Chen and CHCN Quality Management Coordinator Irene Nu

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 PHASEPreventing Heart Attacks and Strokes Every Day. Read more about PHASE here.

 

Closing Gaps in Care to Improve Health

November 7, 2016

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Amit Pabla, Chief of Quality and Transformation, Axis Community Health

“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.

 

Dentist’s View of Sugar-Sweetened Drinks

October 25, 2016

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Dr. Alaleh Zadmehr, DDS, Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center

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.

 

Fellows Build Vital Mental Health Skills

September 29, 2016

Dr. Parveen Kaur, Nurse Practitioner Ameneh Moghaddam, Nurse Practitioner Rita Davis-Martin, and Dr. Lisa Yee all served as panelists at a recent UC Davis Fellowship informational meeting.

“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.

 

Sharing What Works in HIV and HepC Testing and Linkage to Care

August 22, 2016

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Ryan White HRSA Project Officer Ranjodh Gill with Lois Bailey Lindsey and Megan Crowley of Alameda Health Consortium and Dr. Sophy Wong, Asian Health Services

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.

 

Celebrating Health Center Leaders

Aug. 17, 2016

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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.

 

Shift from Disease and Illness to Health and Wellness

July 29, 2016

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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.

 

Vanguard and Vision for Transgender Health

July 22, 2016

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“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.

 

Not Having to Choose between Health and Rent

July 19, 2016

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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.

 

Award Boosts AHC Coverage Enrollment Outreach

June 28, 2016

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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.

 

Where Dental and Mental Health Meet

June 10, 2016

Dr. Huong Le

Dr. Huong Le, Asian Health Services

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.

Weaving Mental Health into Medical Practice

May 16, 2016

Dr. Barbara Benzwi, La Clinica de la Raza

Dr. Barbara Benzwi, La Clinica de la Raza

“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.”

Benzwi sought resources through Alameda Health Consortium’s UC Davis Primary Care Psychiatry Fellowship. Read more here.

How Cynthia Gallo Enrolled Family and Community

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.

 

Family Nurse Practitioner Gets Tools to Treat Trauma

May 10, 2016

Ameneh Moghaddam, Axis Community Health

Ameneh Moghaddam, Axis Community Health

“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.

Meet Laura Miller, MD, CHCN Chief Medical Officer

April 29, 2016

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Dr. Laura Miller with patient

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.

 

Managing Pain, Avoiding Opiate Addiction

March 4, 2016

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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.