Keeping San Francisco Healthy
By Kathryn Graham
Imagine being a mother on limited income with no health insurance, you have never had a mammogram, your child has chronic asthma, and you are the primary caregiver for an aging grandparent. You are not alone but are among several thousand San Franciscans who struggle to find high-quality, affordable care.
At Sutter Health’s California Pacific Medical Center, a comprehensive Community Benefit Program makes the health care system in San Francisco more accessible and equitable.
“Our goal is to provide San Franciscans, regardless of their economic status, the opportunity to lead healthy and fulfilling lives,” reports Cecilia Thomas, CPMC’s Community Benefit Program manager.
CPMC’s Community Benefit Program was designed to address four health improvement goals identified by Building a Healthier San Francisco, a citywide collaborative of organizations that CPMC helped found. The goals are improving access to care, preventing chronic disease and increasing wellness, reducing the incidence of communicable disease, and preventing violence.
CPMC’s program includes:
- Charity care (low-cost to free care) to families with incomes below 400 percent of the federal poverty level
- Programs to reduce disparities and improve outcomes in adult and senior health, child health, and breast health
- Grants and sponsorships to community partners that deliver care to the underserved
- Medical education for health care professionals
- Medical research
Thomas describes two CPMC programs that she believes have a significant impact on the health of San Franciscans:
Vision Care for the Needy
CPMC, with its longtime partner Lions Eye Foundation of California-Nevada, helps restore the gift of sight to people without health insurance or financial resources. CPMC eye doctors, who have special expertise in performing complex eye procedures and surgeries, donate their time and clinical knowledge in the Lions Eye Foundation Clinic. In 2010, the Foundation saw 2,573 patients, and CPMC eye doctors assisted with 528 procedures and services.
”Throughout my life, people made fun of the way I looked because of my eyes. This affected my ability to find work and to have a normal life. Even though I learned to value people for who they are and not by the way they look, this operation meant a new beginning for me. I will be able to blend in.”
~ CPMC/Lions Eye Foundation patient
Workforce Programs for Youth
“Our workforce training programs for San Francisco’s youth are a top priority for us, but one that many people probably don’t know about,” says Thomas. “Children are our future. We want to ensure that our underserved kids have real-world, hands-on experience so that they will be poised to work in a health care setting.”
In 2010, CPMC partnered with 15 community organizations to provide training and educational experiences to 352 San Francisco youth. Here is just a sample:
- Galileo Health Academy: 12-week speaker series offered by CPMC employees to expose students to the acute-care medical setting.
- SimSurg Center: hands-on experience at CPMC’s high-tech surgery simulation training center.
- Jewish Vocational Services/Foster Youth Healthcare Careers Exploration Program: work-readiness training for disabled youth at CPMC’s St. Luke’s campus.
- WorkLink and Year Up Interns: CPMC was internship jobsite for underserved young adults and disabled youth.
- Life Long Learning Academy: Students involved in the juvenile justice system participated in weekly job experiences throughout the academic year.
~ Student at CPMC’s SimSurg Center training program
How CPMC Helped San Francisco's Poor and Underserved in 2010
- Nearly 24,000 Medi-Cal patients and more than 7,000 charity care recipients were treated at CPMC campuses.
- More than 38,000 patients were seen at the St. Luke’s Health Care Center and the Health First Program.
- More than 500 surgical procedures for vision care were provided through a partnership with the Lions Eye Foundation.
- More than 750 individuals were screened for hepatitis B in partnership with the San Francisco Hep B Free program.
- 1,500 children were seen across five Child Development Centers.
- More than 500 breast exams, diagnostic screening tests and treatments were provided to 350 underserved women through the African-American Breast Health and Sister-to-Sister programs.
- 720 medical professionals received world-class training at CPMC.
- More than 240 individuals participated in CPMC’s workforce development programs for underserved youth.
- More than 200 clinic trials were conducted through CPMC’s Research Institute.
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