Will merging the nation’s largest mental health system save money for the County?

Article originally from the LATimes.com. Thanks to Pacific Asian Counseling Services for the notice.
Health agencies may be merged
Supervisor says that the plan would streamline operations and save money.

   Amid a change in top leadership at Los Angeles County, the Board of Supervisors is considering a major overhaul of the way the county provides health services to its 10 million residents.   Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich wants to merge the county’s public health department — which is responsible for preventing and responding to disease outbreaks, running substance abuse programs and inspecting restaurants, nursing homes and other facilities — and a separate mental health agency with the Department of Health Services, which runs county hospitals and clinics.   The proposal has been championed by Mitch Katz, the director of the health services department. Katz is favored by at least some of the supervisors to oversee the consolidated agency.   The county broke off public health services from the larger medical care agency in 2006. At the time, a fiscal crisis in county hospitals raised concerns that other public health programs could be cut.   Antonovich now argues that merging the departments would “break down the bureaucratic barriers facing the county’s patients, identify synergies, streamline operations” and “should result in budgetary savings.” Fred Leaf, a former county health department director and an aide to Antonovich on health issues, said consolidation would lead to a “service delivery system that is more responsive to patient needs and can provide the care more effectively.”   Katz said in an interview that the proposal offers tremendous advantages when integrating care for patients who may have a combination of physical, mental health issues and substance abuse problems. It would also make the county more competitive in vying for managed care contracts under the federal overhaul of healthcare, he said.   He has proposed to board members a management structure for the merger: The three departments would report to a single director and some of the administrative functions would be merged. The three agencies within the new department would retain separate budgets and would each be headed by their own director.   The public health director position is vacant, following the retirement of longtime Director Jonathan Fielding last year.   Fielding said in an interview that before the 2006 split, “public health was pretty much submerged and wasn’t able to advocate for itself.” If the supervisors approve the merger, he said, they should ensure that the directors of all three major divisions have direct access to the county’s elected board members and the county chief executive to advocate for their programs.   Mental health department Director Marv Southard could not be reached for comment, but some mental health advocates expressed concerns.   Brittney Weissman, executive director of the Los Angeles County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said mental health issues might take a back seat in the larger health agency. She noted a similar consolidation effort at the state level had been rocky.   “Mental health may not be priority No. 1 in a new health agency, whereas it is of upmost concern to the current Department of Mental Health,” she said.   But Michael Weinstein, head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, enthusiastically endorsed the merger plan. He has feuded bitterly with the county public health department for years   — sometimes in court — over contracts and what his group describes as a clunky response to disease control.   Weinstein said that under Katz’s leadership, the health services department has become more open and transparent and has a record of “working closely and cooperatively with community partners.”   A majority of the board appears to support the consolidation. Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who joined the board in December, said she generally favors the concept, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said patients would be best served through an “integrated healthcare delivery system.”   The board could vote to give initial approval to the concept as early as Tuesday. Also on Thursday, interim Chief Executive Officer Sachi Hamai announced as part of a series of personnel and structural changes in her office that she would create an executive position in her office to oversee the potential consolidation of the health agencies. abby.sewell@latimes.com

GENARO MOLINA Los Angeles Times   PATIENTS WAIT at County-USC Medical Center. Merging public health services with other agencies would reverse a division made during 2006 fiscal crisis.

National Health Center Week – August 10-16

Did you know it’s National Community Health Centers week? Held by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), serving medical centers who serve healthy communities for healthy people, this cool infographic explains more about how low-cost medical clinics help so many patients nationwide.

HRSA Health Center Week Infographic
National Health Center Week – August 10-16 Increasing Access to Affordable, Cost Effective, High Quality Care For more than 45 years, community health centers have delivered comprehensive, high-quality preventive and primary health care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. During that time, community health centers have become the essential primary care medical home for millions of Americans, including some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations. With a proven track record of success, community health centers have played an essential role in national recovery and reinvestment efforts and will play a key role in implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

#community #publichealth #lowincome #emr

Google and Compete Study: Hospital Selection Infographic

Over time you get sick. Find a remedy. Watch your symptoms, or endure through them. Go see a doctor if it worsens. Get medication. Watch again. And maybe get better. If the process were that concise, shouldn’t the steps to better health be as succinct for intervention?

Google and Compete.com monitored their online audience for behaviors related to choosing a treatment center or care provider. In the course of monitoring keywords, search terms, clicks, page views, and other standard S.E.O. data of online users their teams found several trends in their Journey to Wellness. What they found revealed that their decisions  were not made in short, intermittent searches and more along the timeline of a strategic process towards better health. How users behave online is profoundly similar to the real world, where people make decisions and choices that are functional for their situation. Follow the steps in this infographic below, and see if your own journey to wellness follows what many others are doing online. Have you ever searched for medical information and care providers online? If so, how did you begin?

hospital-selection-infographicThere are many who have aging parents, urgent hospitalizations, helped a family member find a doctor, or asked a friend how their experience was. Often, one encounters this experience upon a dire, critical need such as death or major illness. In a frenzy and race against time, the scramble for information in a pinch can be overwhelming. Reading medical journals, webMD articles and healthgrades.com reviews can add more stress and emotion during a difficult time. In this day, there is certainly an abundance of information about medicine to overwhelm – all which can be made easy and simple with clear direction and focus. Empowering yourself and your family with knowledge about healthcare, far in advance of when it is needed, allows one to make the right choice, at the right time. When was the last time you have gone through a crucial search for a provider that turned out well (or not)? Share your thoughts for an open discussion about the search process and what your outcomes were.

November is Veg Awareness Month, Vegan Wineries Make a Splash

The outset of San Diego Beer Week means even popular wine hubs like Wine Steals, which serves both beer on tap as well as a large selection of wines, will have deals to cater to both brewed and fermented aficionados. The craft beer movement has expanded not just within the county, but also it’s creative reach in food and audiences with standard bar menu. Take Modern Times Brewery, for instance, whose owner has been vegan for 17+ years and manages San Diego’s only vegan brewery (honey which is made from bees, are not used in their products). In a city that is increasingly green and conscious about its food sources, San Diego is now seeing vegan wineries enter the scene.

The growth of wineries with a responsible, social philosophy has piggy-backed off the voluminous start-up scene which includes the global Startup Weekend and Entrepreneur Day. One example is California Fruit Wines in Vista, California with a company philosophy to “Rethink Wine, Rethink Business, Rethink Society.” The company also produces its own unique blends including their fall specialties, pumpkin spice and cranberry wine. In support of Veg Awareness Month, the company has donated bottles to the San Diego Veg Festival as part of it’s “Fine Wine Wednesday” giveaways to the best veg-lifestyle #sdvf social media posts.

Another conscious wine company in San Diego: Vinavanti Urban Winery & Tasting Room produces natural wines with 100% local grapes and no sulfites added. This year the winery celebrates a landmark achievement of gaining the official USDA Organic certification, being the first certified organic winery in San Diego. The makers take pride in making wines without any additives or yeast, showcasing their “Black Label” line where wine lovers can purely taste the grapes through native fermentation and without filtering when bottled. Vinavanti also takes part in this month’s Veg movement with a Vegan Happy Hour and Wine Mixer on Saturday, November 2nd at their location in Sorrento Valley near Qualcomm and Karl Strauss.

On Saturday, November 9 in North Park from 10 AM- 5 PM, thousands of health-minded foodies and wellness enthusiasts can enjoy all things veg in an all ages, outdoor street celebration. In it’s 2nd year, the San Diego Veg Festival‘s goal is to build a healthy and sustainable movement of conscious San Diegans with a live Cooking Challenge all attendees can enter, hourly yoga, giveaways from EASY 98.1, Sunday Vegan Brunch and more. The event aims to support a compassionate, plant-based, animal-friendly lifestyle. Whether you are a first time or long time vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, flexitarian, locavorian, or curious foodie, the festival is for everyone! It features 2 stages of speakers, live food demonstrations, tons of food samples, documentary screenings, a book store, recipe contest, children’s corner, a holistic exercise activities, an official post-festival brunch, and Greensteading component.

For more details, follow #sdvf for updates on Facebook or visit the website to buy tickets: www.sandiegovegfestival.com. Contact info@sandiegovegfestival.com to inquire about the cook-off or to get involved as a sponsor, exhibitor, or supporter.

Little Saigon Foundation is hiring a Community Organizer

My incredible friends at the Little Saigon Foundation are hiring, check it out!


Little Saigon San Diego Foundation

Job Posting

Little Saigon San Diego Foundation is seeking a few high-caliber individuals to coordinate a Community Needs Assessment Survey. The survey will gather input from community members in order to facilitate the creation of appropriate services “designed by the community for the community”.

PAID Short-term Vietnamese Community Organizing

PAID Short-term PT/FT Vietnamese Community Organizing for Community Needs Assessment Survey

Job Description

The LITTLE SAIGON FOUNDATION OF SAN DIEGO is looking for a few high caliber Vietnamese individuals with strong organizational leadership experience to coordinate several community service and outreach projects for the Fall of 2013.

Position: Community Organizer

Term: October – March, 2014 (projects may extend beyond this term)

Pay: $1,500 to $4,000 depending on experience, merit, actual work load.


• *Fully Bi-lingual in English/Vietnamese: Read/Write/Speak both languages (*please do not apply if you do not have this language requirement. Thank you)

• Leadership Experience in Community or Student Organizations.

• Able to recruit, manage volunteers

• Great writing and verbal communication skills

• Work well with people

• Outgoing, adventurous, willing to dive into new experiences

• Goal-oriented and result-driven

• Access to reliable transportation

• Flexible hours including nights and weekends

• Comfortable speaking in front of a crowd.

Individuals of the following disciplines are encouraged to apply: business management, law, social work, social justice, psychology, public health, ethnic studies, and other general social sciences.


Duties includes but are not limited to:

• Coordinate a Community Survey to address the needs of Residents, Business, and City Heights Youths

• Recruit and Manage volunteers

• Outreach and recruit community members to meetings

• Coordinate and facilitate Community Meetings

• Speak in front of community meetings

How to Apply

1. Send resume, cover letters, and leadership assessment (all documents in PDF format)

2. *Cover Letters: one in English, one in Vietnamese (500 words max for each).

3. Complete the Leadership Assessment by clicking here. (Scan to PDF and submit along with cover letters and resume)

o Approach Residents on the street to obtain survey responses

o Meet Business Owners in Little Saigon District to obtain survey responses

Little Saigon San Diego Foundation Job Posting

Contact Fax to: Email Inquiries to:

Frank Vuong (619) 599-0733 frank@littlesaigonsandiego.org

Website: http://LittleSaigonSanDiego.org

Medical products go mobile, and getting a finger read

The iPhone has exemplified the many capabilities of working on smaller devices, and changing the way users interact with user interfaces to service their customers. The biggest trend now for mobile apps has exploded in healthcare, and I’m so glad it has! Everything from medical records, body scans, and even financial reporting has a beta version available for mobile devices. I had watched this video about iDoctor, which really shows the full range of a mobile device. I am still amazed at the power of the phone to sense such minuscule body vibrations and send accurate data to a wireless SaaS.

Recently I went in for a checkup myself and had my own encounter with a new medical technology: the finger pulse oximeter. While the nurse was noting my vital signs, she took a little black clip that looked like mom’s sunglasses-holder visor clip and placed it on my fore finger. Aside from pressure above the nail and below the finger pad, I felt nothing. Staring at the screen, a spark of curiosity arose from the yellow two-digit number (for heart rate) and the mini-equalizer moving about the tiny 2 centimeter-wide dashboard. It made me wonder, how accurate would this be if I started shaking my pointer at the her? More so I was curious about how the device worked, and what the circuit board inside was like to produce such colorful readings. one of my personal pet peeves is when your healthcare professional comes into your personal space, does a test here or there, and leaves you with no useful or transparent information. This device alleviates the need for a professional use multiple devices on you for your body statistics. I love it!

Finger Pulse Oximeter 

In less than a minute she jotted down my bpm, bp, and other quick notes before backing away into the hallway.  The visit left me expecting something more, although it was nice to have a few minutes of my own quiet time before greeting the doctor. From the patient’s perspective, could this generate any fear or angst, instead of intrigue like my own? Perhaps there are patients who dread the entire intake process and deal with the doctor’s office experience with his/her aversive head turned the other way.

As this blog evolves it will be a continual discussion of pespective, heavily focused on the customer’s natural reactions or tendencies to healthcare offerings without the emphasis on being sold/served what’s good for them. For many businesses in this industry, the value is there. The trick is how to pinpoint the best source for educating users in choosing what’s right for them.