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January 2016

 
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HEALTH MATTERS
JANUARY 2016

2015 - A YEAR OF CHANGE, CHALLENGES, AND COMMUNITY

Dear Friend,

The year 2016 is one filled with hope for Community Health Councils and the communities we serve. The Board of Directors is excited to announce the naming of Veronica Flores as CHC's Chief Executive Officer. Veronica was appointed as the Interim CEO in September to provide stability to the organization, and ultimately to help lead a smoother transition for our permanent appointment. Through an exhaustive national search and hiring process, we had the opportunity to meet with several stellar and extraordinary candidates. Yet, Veronica distinguished herself as the right leader to help move Community Health Councils into the next chapter of service and advocacy for South Los Angeles.  

Veronica brings over 25 years of health and wellbeing and health policy experience, and has spent her entire career working to improve the lives of vulnerable communities (Please visit www.chc-inc.org to learn more about Veronica’s illustrious background). Veronica’s appointment comes at an important time for South Los Angeles. We are witnessing significant investments in South Los Angeles, most notably the reopening of Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital that has provided a huge boost toward building a health care infrastructure that can meet the needs of our families. At the same time, too many of our neighbors and loved ones are still uninsured and do not have access to services that can enable them to be healthy.  

There is no question that 2015 was one of the most challenging years in Community Health Council’s history. It was a year of loss, both personally and professionally. The entire CHC family – staff, funders, partners and friends – were all impacted by the passing of our leader, friend and visionary, Lark Galloway-Gilliam. At the same time that CHC was adjusting to life without our beloved Lark, we were also transitioning out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Demonstration Project, perhaps the largest initiative we have ever taken on. It has been a trying and difficult time, full of uncertainty. However, thanks to the amazing staff, a committed Board of Directors and our loyal community partners, with the appointment of Veronica we are poised to build on our strengths and respond to emerging health priorities.

Through Veronica’s leadership, along with the passion of our entire staff, CHC looks forward to leveraging the opportunities and addressing the challenges facing South Los Angeles, and continuing to give voice to marginalized, low-income and underserved children and adults through advocacy, coalition building and community mobilization. We will continue to honor and build upon the legacy established by Lark, and stand by our unwavering commitment toward building a healthier and stronger South Los Angeles.

There is still much work to be done in South Los Angeles, and towards creating a more vibrant and sustainable organization in CHC. We look forward to working with all of you, long-time and new friends alike. We are counting on your continued support. Together we can build a brighter future for CHC and our community. 

Sincerely,
Paul Hernandez
Chair, Board of Directors


 

I am honored to have been selected as CHC’s new Chief Executive Officer and to continue the incredible work Lark Galloway-Gilliam dedicated her life to. As the incoming CEO, my vision for CHC is to ensure we are using our core competencies, with a high degree of innovation and focus, as we continue to produce relevant policy analysis and engage in meaningful advocacy in South Los Angeles. I am also incredibly grateful to be working with a very talented and committed group of people that make up CHC. 

CHC has a strong history of partnering with a variety of local, state and federal public and private agencies. Time after time, CHC has been asked to leverage these important partnerships to create coalitions and strategies that become vehicles for impacted communities to be a part of key health policy and systems change discussions. In 2016, we will be asking our partners to support us in a couple of ways: 1) by being a thought leader as we continue to develop our three year strategic plan and by partnering with us to achieve our programmatic goals; and 2) to support us in creating a sustainable funding strategy that can ensure we stay relevant to the needs of our communities. I am looking forward to an exciting and abundant future working in a community that prides itself on family and friends and, with partners that are in constant pursuit of equity. 

As the New Year begins, we wish you and your loved ones health and happiness. 

Veronica Flores
Chief Executive Officer
Community Health Councils



THANKS TO YOU, we continued to deliver unwavering support to our partners and the community. 

CHC closed out a major grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: REACH Demonstration Project. This grant allowed us to form Partners in Health with the Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and the University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy. We supported area schools, clinics, and physical activity and nutrition resource providers and were able to successfully improve hypertension care processes, develop integrated referral networks to address childhood obesity, and develop the Healthy Kids Zone initiative which will create a healthy and safe environment around schools. 

 

LOOKING BACK AT 2015

PLAN FOR A HEALTHY LA
General Plan Health and Wellness Element

CHC initiated the Healthy Kids Zone (HKZ) concept in order to create a framework for improving health by elevating health and safety standards around high-need schools. On March 31, 2015, the Los Angeles City Council officially approved the Plan for a Healthy Los Angeles, in the process adopting a health element to the general plan and a citywide initiative to improve health and wellbeing. Included in the Plan for a Healthy Los Angeles was Policy 2.5 calling on all city departments and agencies to “support strategies that make schools centers of health and wellbeing by creating economic, environmental, social, and physical conditions in and around local schools that are safe, abundant in healthy goods and services, and offer opportunities for physical activity and recreation.” Also, Policy 2.5 specifically referenced HKZ: “Creating Healthy Kids Zones through focused improvements in opportunities for physical activity, nutrition, improving the environment, public and perceived safety, and health and social services will offer health benefits to students and the surrounding community.” With the adoption of the final language by the City of Los Angeles, CHC has been reserving dates to present that language as an opportunity to bring health-promoting improvements to local neighborhood councils and coalitions.

CHC has completed a fully fleshed-out scalable and replicable model including: (1) criteria for school inclusion, prioritization, and progress measurement based on universally-available data sources about health and safety conditions, and (2) an extensive menu of best practices from Los Angeles and around the country focusing on a range of areas including mobility, open space, nutrition, and the environment. CHC also created the Healthy Kids Zone Policy Report. CHC staff was able to draw upon extensive data, analysis and community feedback in order to generate a final policy report that reflects progress made to date in developing the Healthy Kids Zone concept.

CHC was instrumental in leading this effort that resulted in the adoption of the City of Los Angeles’ first-ever health and wellness element in the general plan, making Los Angeles the largest city in the nation to do so. The health and wellness element also supports a wide spectrum of healthy food resources: healthier neighborhood markets, healthy street vendor initiatives and collective food purchasing among smaller food retailers. Additionally, urban agriculture, community gardens, farmers markets and healthy food zones designations will be part of the plan. The plan is yet another example of how CHC’s work positively impacts the communities we serve.

 

NUTRITION RESOURCES
Mobile Vending Health Impact Assessment Report

Survey responses indicate that 62.8% of students at least occasionally obtain snacks and beverages from sidewalk vendors.
42.9% of student respondents reported eating school lunches at least 3 times per week.

CHC published the Street Vendor Legalization and Student Nutrition in South Los Angeles Health Impact Assessment report. Mobile food vending is a component of the Healthy Kids Zone guidelines. The Health Impact Assessment conducted on the subject informed the guidelines. The HIA report offers data and recommendations for decision makers to consider as they deliberate the merits of legalizing mobile or street cart vending within the City of Los Angeles. Field observations and student surveys were used to assess schools in similar socioeconomic environments but with different vending regulations. A committee of the Los Angeles City Council is currently deliberating a proposal to legalize street vending.

 

NUTRITION RESOURCES
Farmers’ Market Case Study

CHC conducted a case study involving three local farmers’ markets. The study provides real world examples to farmers’ market managers of what can be done to increase patronage at local markets in jeopardy of losing farmers. Surveys were conducted with patrons and non-patrons to learn about perceptions, shopping habits and preferences. Results of the survey indicated that 55% of survey respondents attend the market primarily for the specialty fruit and vegetable products and 82.8% of farmers’ market participants are not aware of the Market Match program (a program that matches customers’ federal nutrition assistance benefits like CalFresh or WIC, dollar for dollar, increasing customer buying power for fresh healthy produce). The study will be posted on the CHC website and shared with market managers.

 

NUTRITION RESOURCES
Sugar Sweetened Beverage Health Impact Assessment Report

The rate of Sugar Sweetened Beverages consumption by children across the four profiled regions ranges from 1.4% to 13.5% higher than the LA County average.

CHC published the Sugar Sweetened Beverage Health Impact Assessment report to 1) study the effect of a tax/fee on drinks with added sugar on low-income and communities of color and 2) engage those community members most affected by the proposal in the formulation of recommendations that resonated with them. Many of the recommendations were incorporated into the latest version of the proposed Sugar Sweetened Beverage California bill. The bill failed in the last legislative session but is poised with revisions to be re-considered in 2016.

 

NUTRITION RESOURCES
Advocacy Training: Don’t Sugarcoat our Future

More than 100 community members from Pacoima, Mid-City/East LA, South LA and Long Beach representing Latino, African-American and Southeast Asian populations received advocacy training in connection with SSB project.
Before the training, a bit more than 50% stated they were comfortable writing a letter to their legislator or providing public testimony on a matter they cared about. After the training, nearly 90% said they were comfortable.

The Nutrition Resources Development team in partnership with First 5 LA, Pacoima Beautiful, Urban Environmental Policy Institute and Families in Good Health trained more than 100 racially diverse community members from across four Los Angeles regions on how to advocate for policies they developed to modify a proposed California bill that places a fee on beverages with added sugar. Stakeholders learned the California legislative process and opportunities to participate effectively in that process that will serve them in this or future civic involvement. A user friendly, bi-lingual training manual was produced, distributed, and is available for use in other community-based advocacy training programs.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Mobility Element

The Mobility Element was approved by the planning commission in 2015. The Environmental Health team provided feedback regarding integration of data-driven planning, complete streets as default standards and elevated standards for school zones pertaining to mobility. For more information about complete streets, visit: www.smartgrowthamerica.org/complete-streets.

 

HEALTH COVERAGE
Knocking on Medi-Cal's Door: The First Year of Medicaid Expansion in California

In 2015 over 2000 children and adults in South Los Angeles and surrounding neighborhoods, received comprehensive enrollment services including application assistance, enrollment troubleshooting, utilization education and renewal support. 
While the Affordable Care Act has assisted many in LA County to achieve health coverage, South LA residents continue to struggle with obtaining and understanding how to utilize their coverage. 

The Health Coverage team published a report assessing California’s efforts to strengthen the doorway to Medicaid coverage by reaching, enrolling and retaining low-income people of color and those in limited English proficient communities in the Medi-Cal programs. This report embodies CHC’s efforts to identify, inform and recommend improvements to decrease barriers that impact underserved communities. While many of the barriers identified for year one of the expansion have been resolved, many persist. CHC has been and will be using the recommendations identified in this report as a platform for continued advocacy around the development of the Medi-Cal program.

 

Mother presenting in Spanish and Son translating into English

CAG Members with display of Water infused with fruit and vegetables 

HEALTHCARE SYSTEMS 
Let’s Talk Nutrition!

CHC’s Community Advisory Group (CAG) completed its year-long Community Based Participatory Action Research project (CBPAR) on Saturday, November 14, 2015, presenting the results of a community nutrition literacy survey. The 21-member CAG surveyed 205 residents in 10 zip codes of South Los Angeles. The results  indicated that the residents surveyed have  a moderate level of nutrition literacy. The areas of high literacy were around the importance of physical activity, impact of excess salt on health, importance of reducing calories to reduce weight, which foods are nutritious, appropriate servings as designated by MyPlate (the USDA’s current nutrition guide), and importance of water consumption. The areas of low literacy centered on the questions of reading the food label accurately and knowing all the factors which determine our dietary needs. 

This project was conducted in collaboration with the Healthy African American Families, the Advancement Project and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

 

CHC will continue working in its core policy areas: 1) Health Coverage/Healthcare Systems, and 2) Nutrition Resources Development and Environmental Health. In addition, here is what you can expect from CHC in the next few months:

• We are in the process of determining our next set of priorities through a strategic planning process. We’ll be reaching out to community members, key partners and funders to help us draft a strategy that is relevant and can take CHC to the next level.

• Look out for CHC’s capacity building opportunities that support our collective impact in the form of trainings, workshops, consulting, collaborations, and products.

• We will be engaging core segments of South Los Angeles health service delivery system in the development of a coordinated care model. CHC’s proposed model will include 1) MLK Medical Center, 2) a select group of community clinics, and 3) Community Health Workers (CHWs) who are South Los Angeles residents. The proposed plan will be informed by best practices taken from existing pilots and tested strategies.

Please support CHC in the New Year by donating to our campaign at: chc-inc.org/donate.  

We look forward to our continued partnerships!

The CHC Team

Health Matters
A Publication of
Community Health Councils
3731 Stocker Street
Suite 201
Los Angeles, CA 90008

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