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A Community Approach to Improving Health

Community Medicine Fellows address the diverse needs of the greater Los Angeles area.

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“Be Inspired” is honored to showcase seven remarkable nominees who were recognized as semi-finalists for Kaiser Permanente’s 2015 David Lawrence Community Service Award. Please scroll down to read today’s featured profile.

The annual David Lawrence Community Service Award recognizes individuals and teams at Kaiser Permanente who champion outstanding activities and initiatives to positively impact health, whether it is in their local communities or abroad. These nominees embody Kaiser Permanente’s mission to improve community health. Their commitments have been to important health and social issues, such as increasing access to health care for the underserved, eliminating disparities in health outcomes of racial and ethnic minorities, addressing the social determinants of health, and being strong stewards of our natural resources.

To recognize their amazing work and dedication to giving back, David Lawrence Community Service Award winners receive a $10,000 grant to a nonprofit of their choosing, which is funded by Kaiser Permanente’s national Community Benefit. The two Southern California award winners of the 2015 awards will be announced on January 27, 2016.

Kaiser Permanente Community Medicine Fellows

“How can a physician help a patient be healthy when the zip code in which they live can have a higher impact on their overall health than their genetic code?” –Ngozi Chukwu, M.D., M.P.H, Kaiser Permanente Community Medicine Fellow.

This question is at the center of Kaiser Permanente’s Community Medicine Fellowship, a 13-month program that seeks to build the capacity of primary care physicians to become clinical leaders, educators, and agents of positive change in public and community health.

Community Medicine Fellows address the diverse needs of the greater Los Angeles area by serving in four strategically selected Kaiser Permanente medical centers: Los Angeles, Fontana, Woodland Hills, and Orange County medical centers. The Community Medicine Fellowship program is unique in how it provides education and training for new physicians to care for members of our diverse communities, helping to ensure that good health extends beyond Kaiser Permanente’s doors.

In addition to their clinical responsibilities, these physicians care for underserved patients at a variety of free clinics and federally qualified health centers while working with community health leaders to improve healthcare delivery and outreach. The clinics focus on increasing access to health care for some of southern California’s most vulnerable populations, including but not limited to: uninsured and underinsured, non-English speaking minorities, adolescents, and homeless populations.

Fellows collaborate with community stakeholders to design and implement a specific health intervention or community based project of their choosing. These interventions build capacity by introducing tools of integrated healthcare to low-resource settings. Examples of these interventions include quality measurement, chronic care management, and health education.

In addition to their work at several community health clinics and their community based projects, the fellows regularly participate in “extra-curricular” activities. This has included volunteering at health fairs, presenting at conferences, speaking on panels, giving workshops and presentations and providing mentorship to high school students, medical students and residents.

During the 2014-2015 fellowship year alone, fellows worked at approximately 37 different community health clinics, saw over 13,600 patients, mentored 116 residents and completed 41 community based health interventions or projects. This means that during the seven years of the fellowship, almost 100,000 patients have been seen in community clinics by the fellows.

The fellowship is also rooted in an upstream approach to medicine, utilizing the social determinants of health as a framework for understanding the root causes of the health issues that their patients present to them each day. Everything from direct patient care to the community based projects is viewed through the lens of health disparities and social inequity. By working to solve for these health determinants, the community medicine fellows are helping to improve the health of the communities we serve.

For an example of the type of work that Kaiser Permanente Community Medicine Fellows are doing in our communities, watch the video about Gladys Felix, M.D., 2014-15 fellow: http://community.kp.org/be-inspired/story/giving-young-children-a-head-start-in-education