Community Stories

Uplifting accounts of prevention and wellness in the community

A Scripps group leader teaches children about healthy eating habits as part of the Scripps Community benefits program.

Uplifting accounts of prevention and wellness in the community

Scripps is committed to expanding our scope of community benefit through key partnerships with organizations that share our dedication to improving the health and quality of life for San Diegans. From collaborative programs that address obesity and diabetes, to raising awareness about youth cardiac screening and mental illness, to providing support and case management services to medically fragile homeless patients, to educating physicians and youth interested in medicine. These programs and partnerships are vital to making our community a healthier place.

The following stories provide a closer look at the positive impact Scripps continues to make beyond our hospital walls to ensure the health of our overall community.

Deepening our understanding of COVID-19 with education and research

From comprehensive patient education and prevention to participation in innovative research, Scripps is committed to keeping the community up to date on the battle against COVID-19.

During the pandemic, Scripps has offered virtual town halls hosted by Scripps Hub Academic Research Core in partnership with the Scripps Hub Community Advisory Team and the San Diego County COVID-19 Equity Task Force. 

The events featured local experts covering topics such as local vaccine trials, treatment updates, contact tracing and mental health care resources. These events reached attendees from across the county, including the most vulnerable communities, and provided an opportunity for live questions and answers.

In addition, Scripps spread the prevention message in the South Bay as the Scripps Well Being Center partnered with Chula Vista Community Collaborative to train promotors to disseminate information on preventing the spread of COVID-19 in South Bay communities.

Through an alliance with the NIH, Scripps Health also worked to combat misinformation and myths about COVID-19, treatments and vaccines. As part of the CEAL award to California, the Scripps Hub Academic Research Core team partnered with the San Diego County COVID-19 Equity Task Force to provide outreach events both virtually and at a safely redesigned community health and resource fair. During these events, experts offered resources and assessed COVID-19 knowledge and feelings about research participation. 

COVID-19 initiatives have also included education for Hispanics with diabetes near the border via text message and convalescent plasma therapy studies.

Transportation service improves health care access

The total cost of missed health care appointments in the United States every year is an astronomical $150 billion. For millions of patients across the country, arranging transportation to a medical appointment presents a challenge. To help address this transportation barrier, in 2019, Scripps entered a partnership with Facilitating Access to Coordinated Transportation (FACT) Inc., a local non-profit organization. FACT provides transportation for San Diego residents in need by coordinating on-demand rides for patients. This collaborative service has quickly proven to be a reliable, convenient, and cost-effective solution to one of the most difficult and expensive challenges in accessing medical care: transportation.

Expanding graduate medical education programs, expanding care

Scripps offers a comprehensive range of graduate medical education (GME) programs at Scripps Green Hospital; Scripps Mercy Hospital, San Diego; and Scripps Mercy Hospital, Chula Vista.

Well-known for excellence, our GME programs provide a hands-on curriculum focused on patient-centered care. Hospital-based training includes rotations in internal medicine, family medicine, podiatry, pharmacy and palliative care. Throughout their education, students provide much-needed care to underserved populations locally and internationally.

In fiscal year 2021, Scripps GME enrolled 157 residents and 51 fellows. Some recent highlights have included the new internal medicine residency program at San Ysidro Health Center, taking a proactive approach to COVID-19 through the entire program and a spotlight on diversity through “rPrIDE” (Residency: Promoting Inclusion, Diversity and Equity) curriculum to focus on health equity and racism in medicine. The workshop series explores historic and current disparities through expert presentations and personal reflection, and complements the established Spanish medical curriculum to improve cultural and linguistic competence.

Driving diabetes care and prevention with a bilingual approach

Each year, thousands of people learn to manage their diabetes effectively through the education and counseling provided by the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute. Group classes held in English and Spanish cover all aspects of diabetes care, including, diet, lifestyle, blood sugar monitoring, medications, coping skills, insulin management, technology and more. Individualized nutrition consultation and meal planning are also available. Scripps has been awarded full recognition by the Centers for Disease Control as a National Diabetes Prevention Program provider, a national initiative developed to help prevent diabetes.

“I decided to enroll because I knew it would be good for me,” says Hector Nunez, who was informed by the program that he had diabetes. “I knew that it was best for me, and that I needed to learn the right way to continue to live my life.”

In addition, the Woltman Family Diabetes Care and Prevention Center in Chula Vista — home to Scripps’ portion of a countywide Diabetes Prevention Program aimed at reducing the risk for developing type 2 diabetes — serves one of San Diego’s communities hit hardest by the diabetes epidemic. This center offers a full range of wellness, prevention, diabetes education and nutrition services in English and Spanish.

Raising stroke awareness and prevention in the community

Widespread concerns about contracting COVID-19 caused many people to stay away from hospitals and doctors’ offices — even if that meant foregoing potentially lifesaving stroke care. In the early months of the pandemic, as stroke hospitals across the nation reported a decline in admissions, Scripps Stroke Program spearheaded real-time data collection in collaboration with 18 stroke centers in San Diego County. When they found a 30% decline in stroke admissions compared to 2019, Scripps Stroke Program dedicated time and resources to create and disseminate a campaign urging county residents to seek emergency treatment when experiencing symptoms of a stroke, while reassuring them that it was safe to come in for care.

Scripps Stroke Program led a collaborative group, including San Diego County EMS, San Diego regional American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, and the San Diego County Stroke Consortium, in creating a united marketing message: “We are here for you. Every minute matters.”

The social media campaign ran on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, with a total of 26,727 views. The community collaborative also was submitted for consideration at the 2021 International Stroke Conference. 

Helping keep seniors on their feet

According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for older Americans. One in four Americans aged 65+ experience a fall each year; every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in an emergency department for a fall.

Understandably, many older adults have concerns about falling and restrict their activities. Scripps educates older adults countywide on preventing falls through exercise and taking proactive safety measures in the home. “A Matter of Balance” is an eight-week program on practical strategies to manage falls, improve safety awareness and utilize available resources to promote independence and overall safety. Scripps physical therapists and physical therapy student volunteers provide fall risk assessments and lead balance classes to help enhance stability, posture and coordination.

Screening athletes for sudden cardiac arrest

Every year, three to five student athletes in San Diego County die suddenly and unexpectedly from sudden cardiac arrest, an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system that can happen without symptoms or warning signs. But this life-threatening condition can be detected with a cardiac screening exam.

The Eric Paredes Foundation, Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista Family Medicine Residency, Southwest Sports Wellness Foundation and the Sweetwater Union High School District partner to prevent sudden cardiac arrest and death among high school students. Their combined efforts raise awareness on the importance of healthy lifestyles and cardiovascular screenings among active students.

From Scripps, our family medicine residents offer yearly cardiac screening and sports physicals before students participate in organized sports. Residents also oversee an injury clinic during football season to evaluate and treat possible concussions and other injuries.

Helping people with mental issues find employment and care

Brett was an art major when the voices started. Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, he struggled to come to terms with his illness. “I didn’t accept that I was ill for several years,” Brett says. Today, Brett is hard at work supporting Scripps Mercy Hospital’s billing and reimbursement team.

Rose “Posey” Hagarman, who has lived with major depression most of her life, became a master’s-prepared surgical ICU nurse. “I was devastated when I couldn’t continue that job after a stroke,” says Posey. “Through the years I tried a lot of different things that didn’t work. And then, there was this beautiful program called A-Visions. Some people are just dropped onto the street after their initial treatment. But here, they lift you up.”

These two stories and countless others are all thanks to A-Visions, an innovative and nationally recognized work program launched in 2002 by Jerry Gold, PhD. Along with therapy, A-Visions empowers people like Brett and Rose to secure volunteer or paid employment at Scripps and other organizations.

Paid A-Visions candidates typically limit their work to eight hours per week. This schedule allows them to maintain their disability benefits, medications and medical care that enable them to work.

“Some candidates have lengthy commutes to work,” says Kevin Wilson, program lead for A-Visions. “That’s how much they value what they do.”

“A-Visions has been a joy for me,” says Janice Shivers, whose major depression has waxed and waned throughout her life. “I work part-time in health information, and I love what I do. I just opened a new bank account with my paycheck, and the teller said, ‘Oh, I love Scripps.’ It makes me feel so good to know that I’m a part of this organization. I’ve had my job for four years — the longest I’ve ever worked any one place.”