Embracing Our Community
Cedars-Sinai Community Health Teams Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts
May 18, 2020 Cedars-Sinai Staff
During this crucial time, Cedars-Sinai's community health teams have pivoted their work to best achieve the organization’s mission of serving those in need.
Among the many Angelenos at high risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, the greatest threat may be to those who were already living on the edge. This includes thousands of people who depend on Cedars-Sinai's extensive network of community health partnerships and programs. During this crucial time, Cedars-Sinai's community health teams have pivoted their work to best achieve the organization’s mission of serving those in need. Below, read about some of the ways our staff has adapted to support local COVID-19 relief efforts.
Cedars-Sinai Provides Basic Care for Homeless Angelenos
Cedars-Sinai is collaborating with the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to increase access to care for people experiencing homelessness. As part of an effort to address medical needs unrelated to COVID-19, medical teams, accompanied by a social worker, are offering services ranging from hypertension and diabetes care to wound treatment and podiatry at four recreation centers acting at housing facilities in Watts, South Los Angeles, the Fairfax District and Mid-City.
COACH for KIDS Focuses on Vaccinations for Children Under Age 2
COACH for Kids®, which provides free health services to underserved children and families, has shifted its work to focus on vaccinations for children under 2 in an effort to help avoid preventable disease outbreaks. Through a collaborative partnership with the Manchester Avenue WIC Center, the team has created a drive-up vaccination clinic for families with infants and toddlers. In fear of COVID-19, many families have postponed critical well-child visits that typically include vaccinations. COACH for Kids is a program of the Maxine Dunitz Children's Health Center.
Healthy Habits Distributes Food to Families
Cedars-Sinai Healthy Habits community health educators are well known to many Los Angeles children for the lively nutrition and fitness lessons and healthy snacks they bring to classrooms. This team is now supporting at-risk families during the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) closure.
The Healthy Habits staff has delivered resource guides about nutrition and exercise—along with mindfulness tips from the Cedars-Sinai Share & Care art therapy program—to families at the LAUSD Grab & Go Food Centers that are providing nutritious meals for students.
Healthy Habits has also helped staff at several Grab & Go sites, handing out food, grocery totes and information to thousands of families at Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Middle School in Mid-City, Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Koreatown and John A. Sutter Middle School in Winnetka.
The Heathy Habits team is also:
- Helping to package bulk food items at the Immanuel Presbyterian Church Food Pantry in Koreatown—now open six days a week instead of one – because of the spike in need for food assistance during the pandemic
- Distributing produce boxes at drive-through locations hosted by SEE-LA (Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles)
- Developing videos on physical activity and healthy snacks that will be shared online with partner schools and families in the community
- Participating in online video classes to offer school children tips on healthy eating, handwashing and fitness
- Sharing family-friendly activities and healthy recipes during virtual Healthy Habits workshops for adults
- Developing videos on physical activity and healthy snacks that will be shared with partner schools and families in the community
Share & Care Stays in Touch With Students
The Cedars-Sinai Share & Care program—which offers 12-week art therapy groups in schools across L.A. to help children cope with trauma and focus on learning—continues to check in with families. Program staff are expanding their services to LAUSD families by providing online mental health seminars on a school-by-school basis. The team is also hosting online video meetings in which principals can discuss issues, and creating resource guides and videos designed to help parents provide coping skills that support kids' learning and to support their teachers.
Suzanne Silverstein, who created the program as founding director of the Cedars-Sinai Psychological Trauma Center and Share & Care, recently participated in a virtual town hall hosted by LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin on Facebook. Video of the town hall can be viewed here: "Fostering Resilience & Well-Being During the COVID-19 Crisis."
Silverstein says this stay-at-home period can be an opportunity for families to bond and grow together. She recommends maintaining a daily schedule and designating a special place for children to do their schoolwork at home. She also suggests a 4-7-8 breathing exercise for parents and children: Breathe in (four beats), hold (seven beats) and breathe out (eight beats). "It really helps to calm anxiety when children feel overwhelmed," she says.
Cedars-Sinai continues to expand efforts to support the community during the pandemic. Dozens of employees helped distribute fresh produce boxes to South L.A. families in need through a Cedars-Sinai COVID-19 Rapid Response grant awarded to Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles and a partnership with Los Angeles County Supervisor, Mark Ridley-Thomas.
Community health employees have also been making hotel arrangements for healthcare workers and managing in-kind contributions such as meals to support frontline caregivers.