PIH, Kaiser win award for obesity work

DOWNEY –The American Hospital Association (AHA) has recognized PIH Health’s and Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center’s collaborative effort as one of five 2015 AHA NOVA Award recipients for work with Activate Whittier — a community-wide collaborative designed to combat obesity.

PIH Health applied for this award in partnership with Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center. This prestigious national honor recognizes organizations that develop and manage effective, collaborative programs focused on improving community health. The strength of Activate Whittier lies in its community-based, diverse collaborative structure that includes multiple non-profit organizations, schools, residents and youth. It has improved the health and wellness of the Whittier community in various ways including:

•Providing salad bars at schools and other healthy food options
•Replacing candy and cupcake sales at schools with healthy fundraisers
•Placing outdoor fitness equipment in the community
•“Healthy Pick” labeling at prominent corner stores
•Establishing smoke-free parks
•Training after-school programs (YMCA and Boys & Girls Club) to implement an evidence-based physical activity curriculum
•Sharing success and knowledge with Healthy Los Nietos and Healthy Downey (collaboratives in rural Los Angeles County)

“As the chair of Activate Whittier, I am so honored to partner with such prestigious organizations like Kaiser Permanente, PIH Health and the YMCA of Greater Whittier as the convener of our work. We all recognize that no one agency can do this work alone. By sharing our expertise, we are truly impacting the health of our community for good,” said Lori Tiffany, vice president and executive director of Uptown Whittier YMCA.

“Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center is deeply committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities we serve in southeast Los Angeles and the most rewarding part of this partnership with PIH Health is that it shows that two health care organizations can band together to solve complex health problems of a community and help it thrive,” said Jim Branchick, RN, MS, executive director, Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center.

In 2007, PIH Health and Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center conducted community health needs assessments that identified alarmingly high rates of obesity in the community — 25.3 percent of children and 27 percent of adults — along with an increase in diabetes prevalence.

In response, the two regional health organizations aligned their focus on obesity prevention and began to coordinate their community benefit work. In 2008, the partnership expanded to include the city of Whittier, the YMCA of Greater Whittier and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to establish Activate Whittier. Since 2012, Kaiser Permanente Southern California has awarded Activate Whittier $500,000 Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) partnership grants to focus on a specific zone in Whittier to implement policy changes and provide resources to combat obesity.

“We had never all worked together before, but there was a natural synergy,” said James R. West, president and chief executive officer, PIH Health. “Each of the partner organizations knew we needed to collaborate with other community organizations to make the greatest impact — and the YMCA has made it a priority to be the glue of the project. There are not enough resources — you have to collaborate. It’s why we’re in health care.”

PIH Health and Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center will be recognized at the AHA Health Forum Leadership Summit in San Francisco on Saturday, July 25.