Guest Blog by:Bobbi Arleen Palmer, MBA, MSW
Chief Executive Officer
Los Medanos Community Healthcare District
How did you first get involved in healthcare?
At a very young age I was afforded a tangible and very practical way to see health. In a lot of ways I became interested in healthcare when I discovered the importance of good overall healthy living by watching my grandmother tend to her gardens. Bessie Brooks lived to be 103 years old. She grew just about everything she ate from her small farm in a town named Lathrop, Missouri. She grew organic fruit and vegetables before the term became a pseudonym for healthy production. I have fond memories of picking green beans, new potatoes, and feeding chickens before the break of dawn. At an early age I understood the connection of an integrated approach to living out, “you are what you eat." I look back on my career choices and realize I've gravitated towards viewing healthcare through an early prevention lens.
What is the best thing about your job?
I have been given an opportunity to serve the residents of my District. In that capacity, I can be very creative in developing eclectic approaches to program design and implementation; while addressing the healthcare needs of my community. I most enjoy developing strong and impactful relationships across various platforms to stretch our tax dollars and see the results of providing empirical-based outcomes. I absolutely get a kick out of leveraging relationships and resources; moving an object at a second point by a force applied at the third. That's the beauty of synergy.
What is the most challenging thing about your job?
Fully understanding that change, real change occurs over a continuum. I am constantly challenged to operate with the end in mind. However, in practice and on a day-to-day basis I'm forced to always consider the various parts within my community that make up the whole to eventually get to the end.
What services would not be provided if your District didn't exist?
A perfect example is we just funded 10 organizations in Pittsburg and Bay Point for summer programming to reduce childhood obesity and vitality in East County. To name a few, children and youth are benefited by the use of a Swim Academy to increase physical activity, a Sports Club that provides basketball in a healthy environment to a community with very limited resources, and a cheer-leading league that not only teaches the fundamentals and techniques, but prides itself in being a "safe haven" for teenage girls to embrace their body image.
How does your District meet the community's needs?
First and foremost we listen. I am very fortunate to work with a Board of Directors that genuinely want our residents to be healthy. We conduct community needs assessments and involve the entire community in the process. We also encourage divergent opinions in the decision making for funding. Because we have adopted a collective approach to service delivery we also benefit by receiving a great deal of support from local employers and businesses. Everyone wins because everyone is able to participate and be heard.
What is your District's involvement with the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?
We are actively involved in positioning ourselves as a Navigator. Our role is to, “guide people through the Exchange by education and outreach." Section 1311 as described by ACA states, "Navigators distribute fair and impartial information concerning enrollment in qualified health plans and also by providing information in a manner that is culturally and linguistically appropriate to the needs of the population served by the Exchange.” I am very excited about our new role. I see this as both an innovative approach for special community Healthcare Districts as well as a natural fit for Los Medanos Community Healthcare District.
What is a hidden secret about your District?
Everyone is related to someone else in our District cites. Even though we are a city in every sense of the word, we operate like a town where neighbors look out for one another.
What is your District best known for?
I'd say I can sum it up by this statement. Los Medanos Healthcare District is small but mighty! We have positively impacted the lives of children, youth, families and senior adults in, "cultivating a community in which good health flourishes for all District residents."
Pictured: Steve Cordova, Bobbi Palmer Andrew Miller
Contact Bobbi Palmer here.