Providence Southern California annual community report

September 10, 2021 Christine Cox

An integral part of the Providence Mission is the work that is done with our partners and within our communities. Read, listen or watch the live discussion below to learn more about how Providence SoCal invested to help support health and wellbeing within their region. 

The commitment to giving back is rooted in the legacy of the Providence founders, the Sisters of Providence and Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, original visionaries who served the poor and nurtured vibrant, healthier communities. The same pioneering spirit of the sisters continues today as our calling and our promise. We continue to respond to the needs of communities that would otherwise remain unmet. The Giveback tells the stories of our regional programs and initiatives that promote community wellness and the vision of health for a better world. 

For the 2020 Southern California annual report, Mary Kate Eaton, Executive Director for education programs and Chief of Staff for our community partnerships division, sat down with Barry Ross, Regional Director at Providence Orange County and High Desert for Community Health Investment, and Jim Tehan, Regional Director at Providence Los Angeles for Community Health Investment, to discuss how Providence is helping build healthy communities in Southern California. 

Below we have included some options for you to learn more about our community benefit investments in Southern California. 

Watch

Listen

Read

Below is a raw transcript from the conversation Mary Kate had with Barry and Jim:

Mary Kate:

Hello and welcome to our live broadcast sharing Providence health’s annual report and community health initiatives. I'm Mary Kate Eaton, Executive Director for education programs and Chief of Staff for our community partnerships division. As a reminder, the information provided during this event is for informational purposes only. Joining me are Barry Ross, the Regional Director at Providence Orange County and High Desert for Community Health investment and Jim Tehan, the Regional Director at Providence Los Angeles for Community Health investment. As an organization, Providence does many things. Today, we're pleased to share our annual report showing the commitment to the health of our communities. To us this is more than just a report. It brings to life our strategies and initiatives by illustrating outcomes in very human terms. Our Community Health Investment teams work identifies unmet needs and responds with tailored investments designed to help improve health and wellbeing. This work is central to how we care for our populations, Jim and Barry are here to help share some of the stories specific to the work in the Southern California region. To start, Jim and Barry, please tell our audience a little about what you do in your roles at Providence, Southern California. 

Jim:

Well, I'll take a start. Both of us play a number of roles in the LA service area, which is sort of that territory or turf that I am responsible for. I work on behalf of the six Los Angeles medical centers and there are two in the South Bay, one on the West side and three in the San Fernando Valley. And you know, one of the most important things that we do is lead the Community Health Needs Assessment Process, which is really an attempt to get information from all kinds of folks throughout our service area and learn from them what their perspective is on the greatest health needs. We combine that with a lot of secondary data, that process is very important to us in terms of figuring out where we go over the next three years. All of our triennial needs assessments and identifying the top health needs and then we develop a set of objectives that cover the three-year periods. For us, 2019 was our last needs assessment year and our next one will be coming up in 2022. We partner with a lot of diverse stakeholders, from schools to cities to faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, the city, the county, and we work with them primarily in underserved communities to address those needs. And then finally, I should mention that I provide leadership to the 100 or so caregivers that work for us in the Los Angeles service area and provide programs throughout the region. 

Barry:

I will add the same, I do the same as Jim does but I oversee community benefit initiatives in Orange County, where we have three hospitals and in San Bernardino County where we have one hospital. So thank you. 

Mary Kate:

Barry, Can you tell me why does Providence participate in community benefit programs? 

Barry:

Well, as a Catholic health system, Catholic social teaching, as well as the legacy of our religious founders calls on us to reach out into our communities, find out what the needs are, and work with others to help solve those needs, particularly for the poor and vulnerable. And that is the mission of Providence so, we really live out that mission every day in our communities in the work that we do. In addition, as a not-for-profit organization, federal and state government requires that we do some community benefit in lieu of paying property and income taxes. But our mission causes us to go way beyond what government requirements are. And that is the hallmark of Providence and Catholic health care. 

Mary Kate:

Thank you for sharing that insight, Barry, I appreciate it. So maybe next you could share some examples or highlights of some of this work. 

Barry:

I'd like to speak about two programs that were undertaken in over 2020. And one of them has to do with food insecurity in the High Desert. When COVID came, there was one sporadic Food Distribution Program in the High Desert. And that program did not meet the needs by any means in the community bottle on toe. Our staff at St. Mary's met with some volunteers and the church price the Good Shepherd Catholic Church, and really had a dream to establish a food hub. The idea was to create initially a drive-thru, where they invited city leaders and organizations to see how this could work, and hopefully get funding to continue the efforts. St. Mary's provided some funding and got some other support and worked with a collaborative that St. Mary's has worked with for a long time called High Desert-Second Chance to bring produce. And on the day of the initial event, the group fed over 5000 people. And that really demonstrated the need and because of that, the city of Toronto's mayor who was at the event; he redirected some care sec funding to help, so this could happen every week in that community. So that's just an example of how St. Mary's works with many community partners, to bring assets into communities that don't have it and to serve the poor and vulnerable. So that's one 

Jim:

Barry, if I could add a corollary kind of effort in LA, we operate a weekly farmers market at our wellness center. And when the COVID hit, we actually ended up using some of our funds to purchase food from farmers at the farmers market and give fresh fruits and vegetables to families in the Wilmington community and very successful, we were able to sustain it for over three months. We had about 150 families that were benefiting from that on a weekly basis. It is a very similar kind of analogy. I thought I would throw that in. 

Barry:

Food insecurity has been one of the major needs doing COVID and we are seeing it continue. 

Mary Kate:

Wow, those are powerful images too, and you were able to help several areas of the community with purchasing from local farmers and distributing to those in need. Those are great examples, thank you. 

Jim:

The next program that we want to talk a little bit about is each of us saw a response to the COVID crisis. I would like to talk a little bit about our initial response after the march 13 date that stands out in everybody's mind. We very quickly started, as Barry and I just mentioned helping with food, but then transitioned to starting a testing center in one of our local communities. And the most interesting thing about that, there are some slides that we have to demonstrate this; there was a very much kind of a bell-shaped increase in the amount of people testing positive for COVID. Where we started out, at about eight or 10% of people were positive. If we can pull that slide up, I think it illustrates what we are talking about. It rose in the target community where we were working, 30% of people who were being tested got a positive test result. And that percentage was substantially above the county-wide average, which really demonstrated the importance of placing that testing site in that community. We are on the verge now of closing it down at the end of July. But what it truly demonstrated was that putting a testing center in that location really made a big difference in that community, which is one of the most underserved communities in Los Angeles. From there, we moved on to beginning COVID outreach, reaching out with kits, getting some funding, both from pop health, which is one of our internal divisions, as well as from the county of Los Angeles. We utilize community health workers to reach out into these communities who had the greatest rates of COVID transmission to initially provide education about COVID. We assembled a number of panels of physicians and community health workers that were being put out on Facebook. Tat slide there demonstrates the comparison of our testing center at the height of 26% positivity in January, compared to the county's rate of 21%. The next slide breaks out for three harbor communities. You can see again that the community of Wilmington, where we have the testing site had a major impact in that community and the ability to get testing and then subsequently to place COVID vaccine clinics throughout the community have been important to our work into addressing the needs in those communities that are most under resourced in the Los Angeles area. And Barry, did you want to add to that? 

Barry:

Yeah, I'd like to. In addition, in Orange County in the High Desert, we had the opportunity to provide funding for emergency assistance to many organizations to deliver food to people that were homebound. Almost 5000 meals were delivered, we were able to support Second Harvest Food Bank, bringing in over 50,000 pounds of food into Orange County when there was a concern, there might be a shortage of stable goods. We provided hundreds of $1,000 in small grants to individuals who needed emergency assistance, such as for rent, for food for basic needs. And that made a world of difference into their lives. In addition, we also partnered with several organizations in high-risk ethnic communities for community outreach and education. And then most recently, we have just finished our community vaccine clinics that were in high-risk neighborhoods, we were in mobile home parks, in schools in churches, and we provided over 11,000 vaccines to the community. 

Mary Kate:

I'm hearing big themes, strong themes of community and collaboration for Southern California efforts. And I just want to applaud you and your teams and everyone who has been able to contribute to these efforts. They've made a big impact. 

Jim:

 There's a group of our folks that were out in local communities and working both with people individually and with small businesses really helped get the word out. When we have been in a number of these communities at Wilmington, Pacoima, Van Nuys with our wellness centers; there is an element of trust that is already established. Getting community partners to help out and being able to help them with equipment and all types of different information. We had a lot of PPE that we were able to pass out. In general, I think in some ways it brought us closer together. Because we had this kind of shared purpose of like a major health issue affecting all of our community, we really could not have done it without our partners. 

Mary Kate:

Continuing on the community and collaboration themes, we know that the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange also volunteered to help the sick during the Spanish Flu over 100 years ago, we have seen lots of comparisons and parallels to that time. What similarities can you both draw from the work then and some of the work being done now by Providence, and its caregiver? 

Barry:

 I've heard from our sisters talk about hearing from the sisters that were alive at that time. They talked about the fact that they went out into the community, they drove into rural areas and up in Eureka, and they didn't have any treatment, they had no vaccines, what they had was their presence, and their love, their caring and their faith. And that is what they brought, and they were in education when they were in Eureka. They were asked to help, they helped and that got the Sisters of St. Joseph into healthcare. Some of the similarities I see is that we also went into high end neighborhoods, we were trusted, as Jim said, we were trusted by these communities to help them and, and because of that we saw people willing to accept the vaccines and accept the education from us. But we have more resources, we had testing, we had vaccines to offer. And I feel really blessed that we could build on their legacy with the science of today and have a significant impact in our communities. 

Jim:

I would just add to that, I think we have been able to demonstrate that all of the sisters from the Sisters of Providence, the Sisters of Little Company of Mary, Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, they've all demonstrated resiliency throughout their history. The pandemic really pushed that upon us so once we got to step back and take our breaths, then we realized that there were many in greater need. We began to adjust and first to just help others out, get people fed, and then move on to the business of educating people and then when the vaccine became available, to start to vaccinate those that are the hardest to reach and that really needs some assistance, getting access to the things that they need. I think in that way, we really are living out the mission that was set for set for us many years ago. 

Mary Kate: 

Thank you both. Those are great parallels. I am wondering next, what are some of the highlights from the community benefit programs in Southern California? Maybe Jim, you could start? 

Jim Tehan:

 I would like to talk a little bit about what we have been doing for quite some time. It is a program that we call CHIP is about helping people get enrolled in health insurance, either Medi-Cal or Covered California. It is also about getting people enrolled in CalFresh, which are food stamps, and helping people with both access to food, to fresh fruits and vegetables and nutrition education to help people learn how best to prepare their meals and to help their families with a good diet. We have been providing this support for people helping them with the applications for a little over 10 years and we are annually enrolling about 3000 people into Medi-Cal or Covered California. Last year things were down a little bit for CalFresh because of the pandemic and getting people in to see us, but we were still able to enroll almost 1,100 people. We look at those efforts to reach out, to meet people where they are at mostly in the community, but sometimes in the ED- to help them get the papers together to show that they are eligible for either subsidized health insurance or help with food and nutrition. It is a program we are very proud of. It is all done by community health workers, and it is something I anticipate will do for quite a long time in the future. 

Barry:

I want to share that one of our key priorities is homelessness. In the annual report for Orange County, you will see a description of a partnership between Jamboreen Housing and St. Joseph Hospital Orange, which created a transitional residential program for homeless people with severe mental health issues. That gentleman there was featured (N/A slide), he was living in a homeless shelter, was suicidal came to St. Joseph hospital’s ER, hopeless. By entering into the program, it stabilized his situation to the point where he was able to get into permanent supportive housing, and he is now living in his own apartment with his dog, happy in a very stable situation. And that is one of many successes due to that partnership. 

Mary Kate:

That is powerful. Barry, thank you. 

Jim Tehan:

There is one additional program that I would like to talk about, it is our Community Health Worker Academy. For several years we have employed community health workers in a variety of programs and settings throughout our service area. Community health workers are folks coming from the community, who know the community, and who carry an ability to develop relationships with people that are often hard to reach. As we continue along this path of developing this role and developing a career ladder; we found that in our needs assessments many people were talking to us about how they would have to work multiple low-income jobs and did not have enough time for their family. We know they are excellent at working with folks in a variety of settings; both educational access and linking people to services. We found an academic partner, Charles R. Drew University. We went together and sought some funds to develop this academy. Charles Drew took on the role of developing a standards-based curriculum. We originally envisioned this as a school-based program but with COVID, we shifted to online instruction. This is a photo of the first cohort of entrance to the Community Health Worker Academy. They all completed the training; the second phase of this program is to put them into six months paid internships either in a hospital or healthcare settings like federally qualified health centers. This is a way for us to work again with our partners, in this case, Cedars Sinai and Dignity Health in Northridge, as well as other federally qualified health centers. Now all of them have one of these community health workers working in their facility and it turned out to be a great opportunity to both develop a pipeline model, as well as to give people who have never really worked in healthcare and opportunity to get their foot in the door and to become part of a team in a healthcare setting. Next month we are starting our second cohort and we hope that there will be many more to come. 

Mary Kate:

Thanks for sharing that, Jim. That is exciting news, I am glad to see the opportunities are there. We are getting ready to wrap up, I want to give Jim and Barry just any final comments or thoughts you would like to add as part of our annual report for Southern California. 

Barry:

I would like to encourage everyone to go online and read our annual reports. If you really want to go deeper on this, on our website are our Community Health Needs Assessments and our community health improvement plans. They provide a lot more details about the needs and what we are trying to do to help meet those needs in our community. I also want to say that I feel really privileged to do this work. That is the work that I know the Sisters of St. Joseph were asked to do 350 plus years ago, by their founder Father Medaille; go out into the community, find out what the needs are and work with people to solve them. I get to do that every day, so it is quite a privilege. Thank you. 

Jim Tehan:

 I would just like to add that we very much want to thank both our caregivers and our community partners for the work they do every day. It is a calling to be working with those who are on the margins, and who need a guide or assistance to get to the next step. And so, as Barry mentioned, it is our privilege to do this work. Thank you. 

Mary Kate:

Thanks to you both. A huge thank you to our community partners and everyone who has made this work possible. It's truly a group effort and, and true partnership in many ways. So, thank you again to Jim and Barry for talking with me today and to everyone for listening and sending in your questions. If you are looking to learn more about the community benefits programs in Southern California, and our annual report- you can visit providence.org/annual-report. And also make sure to follow Providence on social media @Providence on Twitter, and under @Providencehealthsystem on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Thank you so much.  

Previous Article
Tackling Trauma Together: Local Father and Son Team Up at Providence Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital’s Busy Trauma Center
Tackling Trauma Together: Local Father and Son Team Up at Providence Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital’s Busy Trauma Center

Trauma can often pull families apart – but at Providence Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, it’s pulling one loc...

Next Article
Providence Texas New Mexico annual community report
Providence Texas New Mexico annual community report

Providence leaders review the annual report for community investments in Texas and New Mexico. Learn more.