Boosting the health of the community

For many families in East Palo Alto, traveling to a hospital can take over an hour by bus — a daunting trip with young children. Fortunately, the Ravenswood Family Health Center, with financial assistance from Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, offers patient care in the community. 

“If we can keep kids from having to come to the hospital, that’s a great thing,” said Sherri Sager, chief government relations and community relations officer for Packard Children’s. “It’s part of the hospital’s DNA to improve the health of all children in the greater community, and one way we do that is by partnering with community clinics in order to provide care that’s close to home.”

Each summer, local high school students learn about medical careers during the Stanford Medical Youth Science Program.
Micaela Go

Many local seniors also face transportation difficulties. But Door to Door, a program operated by Palo Alto nonprofit Avenidas with support from Stanford Health Care, can take them to social visits, shopping or a doctor’s office. A crew of mostly volunteer drivers help riders to and from the car if they need assistance, and riders who need help paying for the service can receive aid. 

“There are many seniors who are homebound because they can’t meet their transportation needs,” said Colleen Johnson, director of community partnerships at Stanford Health Care. “And being isolated affects their mental health.”

This year, as in past years, both hospitals are providing millions of dollars to help support local nonprofit organizations that improve residents’ quality of life. 

In fiscal year 2018, Packard Children’s invested over $244 million to improve the health status of infants, children, adolescents and expectant mothers. The bulk of that investment provided for undercompensated care for Medi-Cal and other government-funded patients. Packard Children’s direct support of local nonprofit organizations was upward of $2.7 million. 

Sonia Menchavez, OD, checks Ashley’s vision at the Ravenswood Family Health Center.
Rachel Tarantino

Stanford Health Care invested over $378 million to improve the health of adults, most of it to make up for Medi-Cal and other government reimbursement shortfalls. The hospital’s contributions to community nonprofits and support after patients are discharged totaled $12.9 million. 

These funds help support health education programs, bicycle safety promotion, screening for communicable diseases, grief counseling, housing assistance and many other services.

“As a nonprofit, Stanford Health Care takes our commitment to the community very seriously,” Johnson said. “It’s important for us to go beyond the walls of our hospital to support residents and families in achieving wellness.” 

Sager added: “We select organizations that have a proven track record of improving the health of some of our most vulnerable community members. For more than 25 years, we’ve been committed to improving the health of Bay Area communities.”

Some of the other services and organizations that Stanford Health Care and Packard Children’s help support include:

  • Stanford Medical Youth Science Program: Every summer, 24 low-income and ethnically diverse students from Northern and Central California spend five weeks at Stanford learning about various medical professions. Stanford staff members mentor the students with the goal of steering them toward a career in health care.
  • Teen Van: Packard Children’s operates a mobile clinic that travels to schools and shelters, offering multidisciplinary health services free of charge to youth ages 10 to 25. Many of the patients who rely on the Teen Van are living in difficult circumstances, including homelessness. 
  • Community Mammography Access Project: The program helps Santa Clara County women ages 40-plus who are low income and/or uninsured receive screening for breast cancer through community outreach and health education.
  • Packard Children’s Pediatric Weight Control Program: Overweight children and their family members learn lifestyle changes to manage weight through this 26-week course. Packard Children’s offers financial help to families who cannot afford the program.