Early champions of justice in health

Multicultural Health Foundation history photo

The Multicultural Health Foundation is born from the conviction that every member of the community should have equal opportunity to reach their full health potential, no matter where they live, their skin color or income level.

Two visionary African American physicians, Dr. Rodney G. Hood and Richard O. Butcher, began the Multicultural Medical Group in 1993, along with a handful of healthcare professionals. They saw firsthand the effects poverty and neglect had on their patients, mostly from communities of color, who were far sicker than residents in neighboring parts of San Diego County.

Even as the health of most Americans has steadily improved in the last two decades, these patients continue to battle chronic diseases and die earlier at far greater rates than their neighbors.

This has staggering social and economic costs to these individuals, their communities and the entire nation.

A baby born in Southeastern San Diego has a life expectancy of 77 years while one born a few miles away in La Jolla can expect to live to 85. And African Americans in Southeastern San Diego are nearly 80 percent more likely to die from diabetes compared to all county residents.

The two doctors brought together a small group of caring professionals in 2004 (pictured above) to conceptualize a foundation that would alleviate health disparities, knowing it was a “Mission Impossible” undertaking.

They pursued this dream year after year.

The foundation became a reality in June of 2012, when it was established as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. It is a corporate social responsibility initiative of the Multicultural Medical Group, which created it to champion health equity in disadvantaged communities.

The foundation is the only organization in San Diego County unifying the fragmented independent physicians’ sector, which makes up the largest medical safety net for indigent patients. The foundation also collaborates with insurance companies, community clinics, hospitals, the public sector, philanthropists, faith-based volunteers, and most importantly, the patients themselves to advance effective health and prevention programs.

The impressive results of these collaborations can be seen in the foundation’s inaugural program, the Patient Health Improvement Initiative (PHII), which empowers chronically ill patients to improve their quality of life while significantly reducing healthcare costs. These savings are being reinvested in wellness strategies preventing chronic diseases.

Building on that business model, the foundation is developing evidence-based, sustainable strategies to guide and educate multicultural residents to protect their health. Many chronic diseases are highly preventable, and engaging residents in culturally appropriate ways early can lead to a lifetime of wellness.

The foundation also is working to promote change at the institutional level by advancing multicultural health research and policies that aim to eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities.

Whether it’s engaging multicultural residents one-on-one or pressing institutions to change their policies, the foundation is driven by the principle that everyone has equal value in the pursuit of good health.

Help us advance wellness in the multicultural community. Here's how