People living in some San Diego County communities are much sicker and die sooner. The death rate for heart disease is 70 per cent higher in National City than the county overall, for example, and African Americans in central San Diego are nearly 80 percent more likely to die from diabetes compared to all county residents.
A local group of doctors, the Multicultural Primary Care Medical Group, won a prestigious $1.1 million Healthcare Challenge Innovation Grant in 2012 to tackle a component of this medical crisis in these communities. The medical group is working in collaboration with the San Diego Organizing Project and local and national partners.
The three-year grant was one of four awarded in the country by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, as part of the Affordable Care Act, which encourages innovation in health care. And it’s the only grant that treats patients directly in private doctors’ offices.
The grant is funding a pilot project to treat 160 chronically ill people living mainly in the medically underserved communities of Southeast San Diego, City Heights and National City who are high utilizers of emergency rooms and are frequently hospitalized.
Project team members work one-on-one to stabilize the patient’s health, to identify the underlying social barriers affecting their health and to develop a sustainable treatment plan to achieve the best long-term outcome possible. All the while the team is empowering the patients to improve their health and life.