LONG BEACH, CA – Today, the California Health Care Safety Net Institute (SNI) and our partner, the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (CAPH), celebrated the achievements of six public health care systems at the Quality Leaders Awards (QLA) for their efforts to advance high-quality, equitable care.
The 2023 QLA winners were announced at the CAPH/SNI Annual Conference, an event that brings leaders from across California’s public health care systems to celebrate their achievements and gain insight from top health care experts. This year’s theme ‘Stronger Together: 40 years of Collaboration’ underscores CAPH/SNI members’ decades-long commitment to working together to strengthen California’s public health care safety net.
“We are thrilled to acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding efforts of our six winners and their inspiring approaches to advance equitable and high-quality health care,” said Giovanna Giuliani, SNI Executive Director. “All of our members have a shared commitment to continually innovating and improving how they deliver care. This year’s QLA winners were standouts in their categories, and we are so excited to be able to recognize these leading initiatives taking place within our public health care systems.”
Top Honor – UC San Diego Health
UC Health Milk Bank: Increasing donor milk access in California
Despite strong evidence to support the use of pasteurized donor human milk (PDHM) for vulnerable infants, 20% of California NICUs do not have PDHM programs. This access disparity falls along racial and socioeconomic lines, leading to poorer health outcomes for infants of color. UC San Diego Health started the UC Health Milk Bank (UCHMB), to solve disparities in access to high-quality pasteurized donor human milk (PDHM) in NICUs. The program has since expanded donor milk access by opening the first accredited milk bank in Southern California under the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. In addition, UCSD Health worked with stakeholders to revise the 2022 Medi-Cal PDHM policy, making it easier for providers to prescribe PDHM when medically necessary, and established the Bridge Milk Fund to assist financially insecure families in accessing PDHM.
Equity – Zuckerberg San Francisco General
Behavioral Emergency Response Team: A Trauma-Informed Approach to Support our Patients and Nonpsychiatric Medical Colleagues
Zuckerberg San Francisco General (ZSFG) established the Behavioral Emergency Response Team (BERT) program in 2018 with the goal of de-escalating behavioral health emergencies to create a safer and calmer environment for hospital patients and staff. BERT approaches these situations with trauma-informed care, focused on 24/7 support, verbal de-escalation, and patient engagement. BERT has played a vital role in reducing use-of-force incidences; 84% of BERT Activations were completed without law enforcement present. Due to the program’s success, it received permanent funding and expansion in 2022.
Care Redesign – Los Angeles County Department of Health Services
Advancing Equity and Reducing Disparities in Care by Expanding Access to Genetic and Genomic Testing in the Safety Net
Advanced genetic testing offers significant promise to improve care for many life-threatening diseases, however inequities in access to genetic testing and counseling among racial and ethnic minorities threaten to exacerbate disparities in health care outcomes. To increase appropriate care delivery for genetic diseases, the Los Angeles Department of Health Services (DHS) has established a multidisciplinary genetics and genomics optimization program to develop and align best practices for screening, testing, and counseling of conditions with genetic basis of disease to improve outcomes and reduce care gaps. Since its creation, the program has improved on several of its goals, including improving clinical guidelines, hereditary cancer risk assessment and testing, and streamlined patient navigation.
Innovation – Santa Clara Valley Medical Center
Integrated Transitions of Care Model for Vulnerable Populations
Patients with cognitive impairments reentering communities after incarceration remain at high risk for poor health outcomes and often require extensive care coordination and support. The Integrated Care Team (ICT) program by Santa Clara Valley Medical Center provides complex care coordination to these patients post-custody release by establishing access to a medical home and addressing social determinants of health. By using a patient-centered approach, including case meetings and patient outreach, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center can better support the individual’s reintegration into the community. This program has resulted in increased Primary Care Physician visits and court system compliance and decreased Emergency Department utilization and custody encounters for patients.
Population Health – UC Davis Health
Advance Care Planning and Mandatory Surprise Question
UC Davis Health initiated a comprehensive effort to enhance Advance Care Planning (ACP) in both inpatient and ambulatory settings by introducing their predictive Mandatory Surprise Question (MSQ) in January 2020. Admitting providers assessed whether they would be surprised by patients passing away in six months. “Not Surprised” patients exhibited a 6-fold higher mortality rate, more palliative/hospice referrals, longer stays, and increased ICU admissions. This predictive tool led to increased Advance Care Planning (ACP) rates, greater use of palliative care, and higher inpatient hospice enrollment. Overall, it has reduced unnecessary medical interventions and health care spending.
Honorable Mention – Kern Medical
Shelter Integrated Recuperative Care Facility
The Recuperative Care Facility program by Kern Medical was created to help alleviate the strain on the hospital caused by the rising homeless population. The facility provides non-acute care, including communal and isolation rooms, with the goal of lowering health care expenses, enhancing patient outcomes, and reducing the risks homeless patients face during their recovery. Kern Medical is also integrating medically-assisted treatment for those in the homeless population who are willing to seek help. Since its official opening on July 1, 2023, the facility has been able to accept 20 referred patients who have stayed for a total of 235 bed days.