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Updated on October 22, 2010

Ravenswood Family Health Center Logo

PRESS RELEASE DATE                                                  October 20, 2010
For Immediate Release


Major Federal Support for Innovative Program
to Support Patients with Chronic Disease


Ravenswood Family Health Center is one of only 6 community health centers in the nation to be awarded a major 3-year grant by HRSA’s Bureau of Health Professions for its comprehensive chronic disease prevention and navigation services for patients with chronic diseases in the amount of $1,177,881 over three years.

In a field of 231 applicant organizations, RFHC stood out for a number of reasons. First of all, the risks of chronic diseases are higher the poorer the population. Almost half of the residents living in RFHC’s primary service area are below 200% of the federal poverty level despite its proximity to the most affluent Silicon Valley communities. Area-wide chronic disease rates (based on San Mateo County-wide averages) for the 11,411 adults below 200% FPL are all higher than comparable county-wide rates for the general population, including rates for diabetes (13.8% versus 8.2%), hypertension (32.3% versus 26.1%), heart disease (6.1% versus 5.2%), asthma (11.1% versus 9.7%) and overweight/obesity (63.3% versus 56.7%).

Secondly, Ravenswood has a strong track record. “We built a solid foundation,” says Belinda Hernandez, Director of Health Education, Prevention and Behavioral Health Programs. “With the Multi-cultural Community Health Connections project funded by the Office of Minority Health, we had already developed the framework, the curriculum and trained the four multi-ethnic health navigators. They’re the first tier of health navigators, spreading the word throughout the community about serious health risks and the prevention and control of diabetes or hypertension.”

Another decisive factor is that RFHC has so many patients with chronic disease conditions. In 2009, diabetes, hypertension, asthma and heart disease were the primary diagnoses for 2,351 RFHC patients. Just focusing on its 900 plus diabetic patients, with only four health navigators, RFHC’s team was outnumbered 20 to 1.

“Many of our patients face complex chronic conditions exacerbated by poverty, lack of education about health issues, language and cultural barriers,” says Chronic Disease Manager Will Cerrato. “Getting patients to understand what the risks are and providing them with tools and the motivation to make healthy choices is where patient navigation comes in. With this grant we can significantly expand our Chronic Disease Management program by adding 5 patient navigators.”

RFHC also plans to incorporate a module developed by UCSF that teaches health coaching skills to its staff. Similar to a fitness trainer, the patient navigators will teach and motivate patients to make incremental steps towards the goal of optimizing their health.

RFHC is now able to offer a full complement of chronic disease support services for patients from one-on-one education and case management to group workshops, cooking demos, self-management training in getting control of diabetes to grooming those patients who “get it” to be peer educators for other patients.

What sets RFHC apart? According to Will Cerrato, “RFHC is one of the only community health centers in the country to have a trained team solely dedicated to provide outreach, prevention and patient-centered chronic disease management services.”

For more information or to set up interviews contact:
Kathleen Alexander
Director, Communications & Marketing
Ravenswood Family Health Center
Tel. (650)330-7418 Email: kalexander@ravenswoodfhc.org

Ravenswood Family Health Center, based in East Palo Alto, offers comprehensive coordinated health care including medical, health education and prevention, dental and behavioral health services to 10,000 patients annually, ensuring that uninsured, low income families have access to health care regardless of ability to pay.



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