Welcome to the SNI Forward, our quarterly snapshot of the transformation progress at California’s public health care systems and the work of the California Health Care Safety Net Institute (SNI).

As we step into 2021, we hold hope for the return to a new “normal,” but we know difficult times are not yet behind us. Since the beginning, California’s public health care systems have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 response, caring for those most vulnerable, increasing access to testing, rapidly redesigning care to meet surges, and partnering with community organizations to provide food assistance, among other activities. And now, public health care systems are taking on vaccine distribution. As systems continue to battle the pandemic, we offer a special thank you below to the many courageous health care workers for their commitment to protect and serve their patients every day.

This past year, telehealth emerged as an essential way to ensure ongoing care for patients. The more widespread use of phone and video visits has broken down longstanding barriers, facilitating greater and more equitable access to care. In this version of the SNI Forward, we highlight how telehealth significantly impacted the lives of two patients cared for by public health care systems.

Lastly, we are thrilled to recognize the 2020 Quality Leaders Awards (QLA) winners. The QLAs showcase innovative approaches to advance care and population health. This year, we added a new category to recognize those systems that made outstanding contributions to their community’s COVID-19 response. Please check out the QLA winners below to learn more about their inspiring success stories.

SNI has been honored to support members’ tireless COVID-19 efforts and will continue to do so in the year ahead. SNI will establish and strengthen support for members in several areas, including advancing virtual care and anti-racism initiatives, and supporting implementation of a new design of the Quality Incentive Program (QIP). Also, with the one-year extension of the 1115 waiver, SNI’s support for Whole Person Care and the Global Payment Program will continue.

Giovanna Giuliani
Executive Director
California Health Care Safety Net Institute

Celebrating Health Care Heroes

The health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic have truly shown us what it means to serve with compassion. Every day, across California’s public health care systems, thousands of providers are caring for those most at risk for COVID, including essential workers and individuals who are low-income and/or homeless. To honor the strength, determination, and courage of these health care heroes, we compiled a slideshow to recognize their contributions to the fight against COVID and commitment to care for those in their community.

Patient Stories of Telehealth Improving Access

Last week, CAPH/SNI released its first blog in a new series funded by the California Health Care Foundation titled, “Can the nutritionist call me during my lunch break?” and other patient stories of telehealth improving access. This blog highlights the critical role of telehealth, especially for those who need these services the most.

For example, an undocumented single mother describes how video visits with Dr. Daniele Levy, supervising psychologist for behavioral health integration at San Mateo Medical Center (SMMC), turned her life around when she was struggling with depression and stress.

Dr. Rakhi Singh, a family medicine practitioner at SMMC’s Fair Oaks Health Center Adult Clinic, further describes how telehealth, particularly phone visits, has been critical for her low-income patients who often face obstacles when seeking care, such as child care, travel, and time off from work.

Lastly, Dr. Stanley Patterson, a family medicine practitioner at Ventura County Health Care Agency’s Magnolia Family Medical Clinic, shares a story about an 85-year-old diabetic patient who averted a below-the-knee amputation due to a video visit. These patient stories underscore the importance of telehealth as a doorway to more accessible and equitable care, both during the pandemic and beyond.

Listen to physicians describe why telehealth is so important for their patients

2020 Quality Leaders Awards (QLAs)

In December, we were pleased to continue the tradition of the QLAs at the virtual CAPH/SNI Annual Conference, thanks to funding from Kaiser Permanente. The QLAs highlight innovative approaches to improve care and advance population health in California’s public health care systems. This year, in addition to the four standard QLA award categories, we added a new category called, COVID-19 Response. This category recognizes those systems that made outstanding contributions to the community with their COVID response. Learn more about our 2020 winners below.

Top Honor – Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center
Caring for seniors and adults with disabilities, Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco is the largest publicly run skilled nursing facility in the country. Through a COVID-19 response and outbreak management plan driven by early, decisive action, and scientific expertise, Laguna Honda effectively managed and slowed the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

Performance Excellence – LAC+USC Medical Center
COVID-19 has resulted in the delay of crucial immunizations for children, as well as a doubling of the prevalence of food insecurity. To address these gaps, the Pediatric Primary Care Clinic at LAC+USC Medical Center partnered with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank to implement a drive-up model of care, where children received routine vaccinations and their families received a trunkful of fresh and non-perishable food.

Data-Driven Organization – Contra Costa Health Services
When COVID-19 struck, leaders at Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) knew that their most high-risk patients would need extra support to safely shelter-in-place. To identify those individuals, CCHS leveraged their data warehouse to design a COVID Vulnerability Index that predicts patients’ likelihood of hospitalization from COVID-19. This model has allowed CCHS to target their interventions to those most in need.

Ambulatory Care Redesign – San Mateo Medical Center
When COVID-19 hit, San Mateo Medical Center (SMMC) had days to implement telehealth across their organization. They quickly assembled an interdisciplinary team to adapt their in-person visit workflows to a new telehealth model and developed standard work processes. The thoughtful formation of this team-based approach allowed SMMC to continue to deliver high quality care during the pandemic.

Special Recognition, COVID-19 Response – Arrowhead Regional Medical Center
As COVID-19 emerged, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center proactively formed a multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder Skilled Nursing Facility Outreach and Support (SO+S) Team to provide targeted interventions to sites experiencing outbreaks. By providing in-the-field assessments and expertise around infection control protocols, staffing, and supply chain issues, the SO+S Team controlled outbreaks at 48 facilities. 

Special Recognition, COVID-19 Response – Natividad Medical Center
At the beginning of the pandemic, there was an abundance of urgent information about the outbreak that was inaccessible to non-English speakers. Natividad quickly realized the need to address this gap and responded with a large-scale communications campaign to share science-based information about COVID-19 in multiple indigenous languages.

Special Recognition, COVID-19 Response – Santa Clara Valley Medical Center
In February, the County of Santa Clara emerged as an epicenter of COVID-19, with up to 25% of the nation’s cases. Santa Clara Valley Medical Center conducted early rapid surveillance research to guide public health decisions and established novel methodologies to increase testing capacity. These efforts resulted in a 15-fold increase in testing capacity and bolstered Santa Clara’s ability to provide wraparound medical and social services to those most in need.

Learn More

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  • Visit our website at safetynetinstitute.org
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