SFMC receives grant to enhance ‘medical consumerism’

St. Francis Medical Center (SFMC) was awarded a $95,000 grant from Anthem Blue Cross Foundation to enhance the medical consumerism skills of the patients that SFMC serves.

The grant allows the Lynwood hospital to augment its existing community wellness program, Vida Sana, with a patient empowerment module entitled Health Options for Patient Empowerment (HOPE). The module focuses on improving patient communication skills with physicians and on helping them understand how to navigate the health care system for optimal and appropriate utilization of medical resources.

Today there are many resources for training medical professionals on cultural awareness and improving communication and the patient experience. However, there are little to no resources that provide similar training to patients --- the ultimate consumers of medical services. The HOPE medical consumerism module helps people develop the skills needed to take informed action in the determination of their medical care decisions.

“With so many people entering the health insurance system for the first time in 2014, it’s important that we help give patients the knowledge of how to make the best use of health care,” said Mark Morgan, chief operating officer for Anthem Blue Cross. “The Anthem Blue Cross Foundation is thrilled to support St. Francis Medical Center’s Vida Sana program so together, we can transform health care with trusted and caring solutions.”

HOPE is being rolled out through the hospital’s Vida Sana promotoras, or community health promoters, and has been integrated into the 12-week health and wellness program at seven of the Vida Sana sites in Southeast Los Angeles. The program includes diabetes and healthy lifestyle courses, along with the added patient empowerment module which addresses the following:

---Taking responsibility for your medical care decisions and health.

---Improving communication skills with physicians.

---Understanding options for appropriate utilization of medical services.

---Setting health-related goals.

---Collaborating with others who have a vested interest in your health.

---Becoming smart medical consumers.

---Staying safe in the health care environment.

---Adhering to health care decisions jointly derived by you, your health care team, and family.

As part of the HOPE module, Vida Sana participants take a pre- and post-program survey to assess specific Patient Activation Measures. The surveys evaluate the degree to which individuals are engaged in their own health. At specific intervals throughout the 12-week session, participants also measure their biometric indicators for diabetes, including glucose and cholesterol levels, blood pressure and body mass index. The biometric results are used to determine the effectiveness of the HOPE module on decreasing a participant’s diabetes risk factors.

“Measuring biometric indicators for diabetes is important because one of the most significant and preventable challenges facing our community is the rapidly growing incidence of this disease, particularly among our Latino population,” said Gilda Acosta, St. Francis Medical Center director of Healthy Community Initiatives and the Vida Sana Program.

“The most effective countermeasure is patient empowerment,” she continued. “Managing your own health and understanding how to best utilize available health care resources can have a tremendous positive impact on your health and well-being, as well as provide a sense of control over your own life.”

Currently 840 Vida Sana members participate in the HOPE module. The goal is to educate 1,400 participants within a 12-month time period; however, HOPE’s reach and lasting effects have the potential to be much greater.

“We’ve found that when participants receive understandable and usable information, they share what they’ve learned with family and friends,” stated Acosta.  “We anticipate that, once learned, managing your own health and your family’s health will be a lifelong practice.”

Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association promotes Anthem Blue Cross’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that the company serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges.

St. Francis Medical Center (SFMC) is a member of the Daughters of Charity Health System, dedicated to serving those who are sick and living in poverty.  For more information visit www.stfrancismedicalcenter.org.


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Spiritual, but not religious? Who to blame for declining church attendance

Father Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

It’s no secret that today there’s been a massive drop-off in church attendance. Moreover, that drop-off in church-going is not paralleled by the same widespread growth in atheism and agnosticism. Rather, more and more people are claiming to be spiritual but not religious, faith-filled but not churchgoers. Why this exodus from our churches?

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