Seeing Healthier Families Grow in San Diego

Kimberly Weber

In late June, I had the opportunity to visit Neighborhood Healthcare in Northeast San Diego. The visit held special meaning for me personally, as it was only one town over from where I grew up. When I arrived at the health center, I was greeted by a sign that read “Services will be provided regardless of your ability to pay” – no one would be turned away. Inside, the waiting room was bustling with people of all ages and a variety of backgrounds, there to receive care for everything from a routine physical to a dental health visit.  The center was warm and welcoming, and I felt right at home.

While there, I met with Elizabeth Ahumada, a graduate of the Clinic Leadership Institute’s (CLI) Emerging Leaders program. Launched by Blue Shield of California Foundation seven years ago, CLI prepares emerging leaders in California’s community health centers to be effective and passionate agents of change in our evolving healthcare environment.  During our discussion, Elizabeth told me that CLI helped her advance her career at Neighborhood Healthcare and gave her the skills and support she needed to become a champion of their Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program (CPSP). With many young moms and teen pregnancies in the community she serves, the CPSP is helping to make health care a priority throughout pregnancy – not just when it’s time to give birth. As a result of the program, Elizabeth has seen a decrease in the number of babies born with low birth weight, as well as better health outcomes among young mothers.

During my visit, I was also able to participate in a baby shower – an element of the CPSP designed for fathers and mothers in their third trimester. In addition to celebrating the babies’ impending arrival, the shower gave the parents-to-be an opportunity to discuss last minute plans with their provider, go over proper care techniques, and share what they were most excited (or nervous) about. Parents also received donated baby clothes, bedding, diapers, and some healthy treats like fruits and crackers. With lots of laughter and smiles, the shower was a joy to witness.

By improving the lives of children and mothers, we can ultimately improve the wellness of the entire community. It’s great to know those close to home are being so well served by Neighborhood Healthcare.

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