Diabetes, frequently described as "epidemic" among the Hispanic community, often has its roots in childhood obesity. Among that same population, diabetes is very often related to a host of chronic diseases. High blood pressure and kidney disease, stroke, heart disease and cancer are frequently attributed untreated diabetes. Among White memorial's patient population, diabetes is seen as a co-morbidity among a significant percentage of patients being treated for one or more of these chronic diseases.
White Memorial Medical Center is uniquely positioned to respond to the medical needs of our largely Hispanic community. Now, as WMMC celebrates a century of service to the community of East Los Angeles, many Latinos will finally have financial access to medical care through the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. They will find that WMMC is uniquely capable of caring for patients with the chronic diseases common among the population.
Over the last decade, health disparities among Hispanics have stayed the same or widened, despite increased attention by the government and community. Overweight and obesity have become the norm among Hispanic communities with profound health and economic consequences. With a recent grant from the UniHealth Foundation, WMMC has the opportunity to redesign the delivery of chronic care under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that makes this care financially sustainable. The 18 months pilot planning project is developing the organizational, technical and clinical components needed to improve patient outcomes, ensure coordination of care between hospital and outpatient settings, increase physician and patient engagement, and establish data collection and reporting mechanisms.
The risk of premature death and disability due to coronary disease is twice as high for adults who were overweight or obese as adolescents. Obesity is particularly prevalent among Mexican-American children and youth with the latest estimates indicating that 27% of adolescent boys and 20% of adolescent girls are obese. With Hispanic children and adolescents among the most overweight in Los Angeles, WMMC has already taken important steps to mitigate this growing health problem.
With grant support from the California Endowment, White Memorial has developed a community garden to encourage community members and patient to eat more fruit and fresh produce. Proyecto Jardin engages families in the planting, cultivating and harvesting of food plants for personal use and integrating healthy food and healthy preparation with regular physical exercise for a healthier lifestyle.
WMMC is an active member of a consortium of leading Southern California hospitals providing the Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Program where children and their parents learn to make better choices at the grocery store, replacing high-fat and high-calorie selections with more nutritious options. Avocados from Mexico has provided grant support to this successful program.
The hospital is enrolling patients in the weight loss program known as OPTIFAST that offers medically supervised meal replacement, lifestyle education and counseling support. WMMC Cardiac Rehab Program offers 3-months outpatient program of monitored exercise that returns patients to a healthier and more active lifestyle.
Last year, the hospital dedicated a one-half mile walking trail on the campus. Open to patients' families and visitors, employees and staff as well as the community, the trail offers a convenient and fun way for people to engage in regular exercise.
So as an innovator in clinical care and education as a good neighbor encouraging prevention in the community, White Memorial is leading the way in East Los Angeles in the battle against chronic disease.