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    Community Health Resource Center: Weaving Health into Daily Life

    Erlinda Jimenez is a vibrant 77-year-old who plans to stay healthy and active for years to come. A major cornerstone in her self-care plan is regular monitoring of health markers like cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose, which she accomplishes by attending health screenings held by the Community Health Resource Center at Sutter Health CPMC

    Jimenez says the monitoring appointments she attends (in her case, at the Mission YMCA) allow her to bring her primary care doctor a more complete health picture at checkup time, and contribute to better overall wellness. “I get instant feedback on how I’m doing, which allows me to adjust my exercise routine or medication as I need to,” she says. “I am healthier as a result.”

    CHRC provides these screenings as part of its Healthy Collaborations Program targeting medically underserved neighborhoods including the Mission, Bayview and Hunters Point.

    “The mission of the Community Health Resource Center is to help and support our community in living healthier lives,” says CHRC Executive Director Scott Plymale, LCSW, Ph.D. Monitoring health vitals is one way to do so, as are a myriad range of health classes, support groups, nutritional guidance and behavioral counseling offered by the center. “There’s something for everybody here,” Plymale says, “no matter what your health concerns are.”

    With the advent of health reform and its focus on preventive care and patient responsibility, Plymale predicts the need for CHRC’s services will grow: “We can empower people to take better care of themselves through health classes and services. It’s efficient and cost-effective.”

    Serving thousands of Bay Area individuals and families each year, CHRC services are offered free, at a reduced cost, or on a sliding scale – depending on need – and the center relies on a mix of institutional grants, fee-for-service payments and charitable gifts from the community to offer these valued services.

    Situated on the ground floor of CPMC’s 2100 Webster Street medical building, CHRC provides patients the chance to browse its health and resource library, get information on upcoming health classes, or schedule an appointment with one of its health care providers.

    Other CHRC programs focus on helping those struggling with medical conditions that, without intervention, might progress to levels needing intensive and costly medical care. CHRC’s Kidney Wellness Program, which partners pre-dialysis chronic kidney disease patients with health professionals, helps maintain healthy kidney function through close monitoring and focused medical nutrition therapy.

    Another offering, the Cancer Buddy Program, matches volunteer cancer survivors with newly diagnosed patients by cancer type. “Somebody who’s already been through cancer can be enormously helpful to someone just diagnosed,” Plymale says. “And ultimately, working together is healing for both.”

    Back at the Mission YMCA, 61-year-old Paul Woods attends Healthy Collaboration monitoring sessions to keep his high cholesterol and blood pressure in check. “The real-time results I get are helpful,” Paul says, “but honestly, my favorite part is visiting with the CHRC staff. They are nice people who really care.”

    Taking a pause after a recent screening are, from left to right, Larry Fleck, CHRC phlebotomist; Erlinda Jimenez, patient; Paul Woods, patient; Robert Eifler, Mission YMCA's Director of Branch Programs.

    In the new model of health care, community partnerships – like the one between CPMC, Community Health Resource Center and the YMCA – look to be key in keeping costs down while actually boosting the community’s health. “As we move away from episodic, crisis care to more preventive and holistic approaches, we need to meet our community out where it lives,” says CHRC’s Plymale. “That way, staying healthy becomes woven into daily life.”

    A Gift of Foresight

    A longtime CPMC patient, Waneta A. Averhoff moved to San Francisco in the early 1920s. She worked for Zellerbach Paper until she met and married Ralph Davis, who had been her real estate agent. The couple loved living in Northern California, where they avidly pursued their hobby of competitive boat racing in the San Francisco Bay.

    During the course of her life, Waneta used and enjoyed the services of the Community Health Resource Center. When she passed away last spring following her 100th birthday, CPMC Foundation learned of her generous planned gift of $892,565 designated to be evenly split between the CHRC and CPMC’s Breast Health Center.

    CHRC Executive Director Scott Plymale, LCSW, Ph.D., calls Waneta’s gift “amazing” in its foresight. “She’s someone who used our services decades ago who decided to pay it forward -- planting a seed to take root and flourish beyond her years on earth.” Dr. Plymale hopes the funds will help CHRC expand patient services like the Cancer Buddy and Kidney Wellness programs.

    Waneta Averhoff’s estate plan, which shared gifts of a life well-lived, was the final expression of her lifelong habit of generosity – and one that will benefit the San Francisco community for generations to come.

    Community Health Resources

    San Francisco County:
    Community Health Resource Center
    2100 Webster Street, Suite 100
    San Francisco, CA 94115
    Phone: 415-923-3155
    Web: chrcsf.org

    Marin, Sonoma and other Northern California counties: Sutter Health offers community health classes all across Northern California. To access classes in your area, visit sutterhealth.org