Ravenswood Health receives $7.3 million award

Culturally trained health workers could save health care system millions, officials say

Ravenswood Health Center in East Palo Alto has received a $7.3 million Health Care Innovation Award, officials announced at a Tuesday, May 22, press conference.

The goal of the federal award is to help 19,000 patients manage their chronic conditions, thereby saving $6.2 million in health care costs.

"19,000 human beings," U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) said at the event. "It's stunning, and it's important, and it will change lives."

Ravenswood CEO Luisa Buada said the funds will be used to train a staff of multicultural, multilingual health care workers who can help those with chronic conditions — or those at risk of chronic conditions like diabetes — manage their conditions and avoid expensive visits to the hospital or doctor's office.

David Sayen, regional administrator for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which funded the grant, also spoke at the event.

"Much of time we talk about the challenges in healthcare more than the solutions," he said. "There are a lot of challenges, and we know how to fix them. The point of this grant is to help the people who know how to do things do more and serve as a model for others to follow."

Sayen said programs like Ravenswood's are especially important because 20 percent of Medicare beneficiaries end up returning to the hospital for the same thing they went there for originally.

Part of the plan is to help bring this number down, he said.

Eshoo spoke about the center's development from its formative years, when it had only 2,482 patients. Today, she said, the center serves 13,000 people.

The center, which turned 10 years old in December, is also $10.5 million into its $17 million capital campaign to expand its grounds and services. The $7.3 million award is separate from its capital campaign.

The award was one of 26 federal grants awarded across the country out of a pool of 3,000 applicants. Of the 26 recipients, it was the only community health care center.

Eshoo also spoke to the crowd about the role the Affordable Care Act of 2010 played in the awards.

"The Healthcare Reform Act created the (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) award and until I close my eyes to this world, I will always be proud of my vote," said Eshoo, whose voice quavered as she spoke. "You can tell it means something to the depths of me."


Like this comment
Posted by Kathy
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 23, 2012 at 11:24 am

If the workers and patients in this program gain advantage from some of the information technologies that are growing up around it in the Valley, then it can be a model for actually saving healthcare dollars with technology.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 23, 2012 at 11:53 am

I know a lot of Ravenswood patients who're happy w/the great care that they receive. I also know some of the very dedicated employees. This is a joy to read.

Ravenswood now also has a farmer's market out front ever Wed. and much of what's sold is grown by EPA garderners. There will soon be a pick up location for CSA boxes at Stanford & downtown Palo Alto. Ravenswood also has free cooking classes for residents to learn how to cook healthy on their budget.

Ravenswood is involved in many smart, helpful health options for low income county residents. I'm so grateful that we have them in this community. Not only do I feel pride, I feel relief because there is solid good health care going on here.

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