For more than 150 years Alameda Health System (AHS) has been committed to the health and well-being of our patients and underserved community. Not only does AHS open its doors to the most vulnerable patients, but our efforts to support a healthier community extends far beyond the walls of our hospitals and wellness centers. By being deeply engaged with the community we serve, AHS helps makes it a healthier and more equitable place for everyone to live, learn, work and thrive.
“We foster strong relationships with community partners who support our patients and their families with resources and services they need to stay healthy,” said Manager of Community Engagement in Public Affairs and Community Engagement (PACE), Louise Nakada. “We continually look for ways we can support and sponsor community events and programs that benefit our diverse community.”
For example, AHS participated in the annual Healthy Living Festival presented by the United Seniors of Oakland and sponsored by Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, District 4. Held at the Oakland Zoo, this year’s event attracted over 1,500 seniors and the AHS mobile health clinic provided attendees with general health screenings.
In addition, AHS provided educational materials on healthy eating, stroke prevention and risks for heart disease. Seniors also received reflectors to improve visibility and fall prevention tips from Stefania Kaplanes, Manager of the AHS Trauma Prevention Program.
“As a trauma prevention coordinator, I really appreciate the opportunity to meet with the community to talk about mobility improvement rather than meeting patients at the bedside after a fall,” said Kaplanes. She shared, “Once you’ve fallen, you’re three times more likely to fall again so prevention is key.”
In addition to health fairs, AHS seeks unique opportunities to bring health education and screenings into community celebrations including this year’s Día de los Muertos Festival in Oakland’s Fruitvale district. It not only proved to be an outstanding opportunity to connect with the community, but it also provided AHS bilingual enrollees in the Alameda County Health Coach Apprenticeship Program with real-time job experience.
Physician Assistant in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Lisa Monroe is the lead trainer for the Alameda County program whose goal is to train and employ people of color as health coaches. Once their training is complete, some students are placed in externships with AHS. “We take multilingual and multicultural people and teach them how to deliver health education, putting resources back into the community like at the Día de los Muertos Festival,” said Monroe.
At the event four Spanish speaking health coaches gave free blood pressure checks and provided information on hypertension and stroke prevention. “The community health coach program is helping to improve the health of AHS’s diverse community and also serving as a bridge for people of color to explore careers in health care,” said Monroe. Members of the AHS Latinx and Ally Affinity Group and the health coaches had over 300 attendee interactions during the festival.
AHS and the County are champions for achieving health equity and community events like the Día de los Muertos Festival are important because when patients encounter providers or staff who look like them and who they can relate to, it improves individual health outcomes. “It increases the chances they will be consistent in taking their medications, adopting healthy behaviors and getting their regular health screenings,” said Monroe.
Healthy communities do not happen on their own. AHS continues to invest in community health in many ways including the Martin Luther King day of service at the Alameda County Community Food Bank, Adopt-A-Family holiday gift program, backpack and school supply drives for our neighborhood schools, Oakland Housing Authority Winter Wonderland for resident children and their families, Alameda Hospital community flu clinics, and the upcoming Alameda Hospital community blood drive on December 30.
Good health starts in communities and as a longtime pillar in the community we serve, AHS’s commitment to improving the health and wellness of our patients and neighbors has never been stronger.