UCLA Health is honored to serve Los Angeles and the surrounding region by providing outstanding clinical care, leading scientific research and discoveries, training for the next generation of health care professionals and actively engaging with our community to improve the health of the public. As I reflect on the fiscal year of 2020-2021, I am proud of the commitment demonstrated by our faculty, staff, trainees and students to fulfill this mission.
In the spring of 2021, when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it would open an emergency-intake site in Long Beach for unaccompanied migrant children, UCLA Health sprang into action. Within 24 hours, we built a pediatric clinic, urgent-care facility and a COVID-19 isolation unit inside the Long Beach Convention Center. Together with our partners, we set up medical examination rooms, brought in X-ray machines and laboratory and pharmaceutical supplies, established secure computer networks to transmit health information and staffed the site with nurses, physicians, child-life specialists and other health care providers. We were honored to extend our care to this highly vulnerable population and support their health care needs and their psychosocial development.
In 2021, UCLA Health announced its plans to build a world-class, state-of-the-art campus to expand behavioral health care capacity in Los Angeles. The Mid-Wilshire campus will be designed to support individuals, their families, and the broader community by significantly expanding access to a healing environment with a full continuum of behavioral health services. Mental health is the most urgent unmet need in Los Angeles County – and across our country – with few providers of inpatient care. An anticipated investment of $400 million will help address this long-standing regional need for additional behavioral health services.
Fiscal Year 2020-2021 was not without its challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have all seen and felt the ways in which COVID-19 has exacerbated inequities within our society. When the COVID-19 vaccines were authorized for emergency use we were privileged to be a part of the effort to vaccinate and protect our patients, their families and the community. As part of our commitment to address health and social inequities, we incorporated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) to ensure clinical risks, age and social factors were used at UCLA Health in prioritizing vaccinations for staff and patients.
UCLA Health also held numerous bilingual community webinars on the importance and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines. Acknowledging and addressing the complex ways racism and social determinants affect health outcomes is essential to improving the well-being and quality of life of underrepresented and historically excluded people.
As a leading health system, we strive to remove barriers in access to health care. To deliver on this commitment, we launched the UCLA Health Homeless Healthcare Collaborative to provide the men, women and children who live without permanent shelter throughout the Greater Los Angeles area with access to high-quality medical care. The UCLA Health Homeless Healthcare Collaborative mobile vans travel directly to people in street, shelter and interim housing sites. The mission is straightforward: to promote greater health equity and improved clinical outcomes by expanding access to comprehensive, high-quality health care and social services to those who are most in need.
Accessing medical care can be challenging for many people experiencing homelessness. With the launch of this program, we took a major step toward improving access to care for vulnerable populations by bringing essential health care services where they are needed most. Providing quality care not only improves the overall health of people experiencing homelessness, it also equates to an enhanced chance of their receiving housing and employment opportunities.
These are just a few examples of the work UCLA Health is doing to serve our community and fulfill our vision to heal humankind, one patient at a time, by improving health, alleviating suffering and delivering acts of kindness. Thank you to the outstanding UCLA Health faculty, staff, trainees, students and volunteers who devote their lives to improving the health and wellness of their fellow community members.
supported a school network of more than 145 middle schools and high schools across six school districts (Los Angeles Unified, Long Beach Unified, Glendale Unified, Compton Unified, Culver City Unified and Santa Monica-Malibu Unified). More than 185,000 students benefitted from SBSM’s resources including state-of-the-art fitness centers, fitness accessories, and a physical activity and nutrition curriculum. Physical education teachers received professional training from SBSM.
To support health and exercise during the pandemic, SBSM developed online resources and distributed more than 5,500 home fitness kits to families to encourage home-based physical activity when schools, community centers, gyms and other recreation facilities were closed. SBSM also developed a youth mindfulness curriculum in collaboration with the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center to promote healthy lifestyle choices.
served 117 warriors and 47 caregivers, providing medical diagnoses and advanced surgical/medical services, as well as intensive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and mild traumatic brain injury.
distributed flu vouchers throughout the community and 130 seniors redeemed them for free flu vaccinations.
delivered more than 100 COVID-19 vaccinations at the UCLA Health Training Center to Lakers players, coaches, travel team members and Lakers organization staff and their families.
provided free, state-of-the-art treatment in this reporting period to 1,212 victims of sexual abuse or assault, including medical care, forensic services and trauma-informed therapy.
provided free services to 816 child sexual abuse victims, including forensic interviews and specialized therapy services.
The comprehensive services model pioneered by the Rape Treatment Center and Stuart House provided assistance and advocacy to 668 victims during the criminal justice process, including orientation to the criminal justice system, support with law enforcement, accompaniment to court and post-sentencing support.
trained 10 interdisciplinary interns/postdocs; provided 23 community trainings to 575 attendees; and provided 8,603 clinical encounters (therapy sessions, evaluation, medication support and case management) to 187 child welfare-involved youth and their families.
supporting families with early life medical challenges with their infants served 72 families and offered 706 therapy sessions.
which offers clinical and psychological support for patients suffering with the effects of a traumatic experience, served 164 families in 1,927 therapy sessions.
During the COVID-19 response of FY20-21
served more than 36,000 children, families, veterans and homeless citizens of our community, actively supported through outreach programs with our partners.
an initiative promoting well-being and resilience in LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) children, teenagers and adults — served 158 clients in 1,488 therapy sessions.
organized more than 50 Community Virtual Talks engaging more than 2,100 community members. The talks focused on important health concerns such as “Maternal Mortality,” “Science of Stress,” “Why Everyone Needs A Primary Care Doctor” and “Understanding Dementia.” More than 80 community members attended those events.
at the Long Beach Convention Center opened in April 2021. In the three months it operated, UCLA Health doctors, nurses, Child Life Specialists and other staff cared for 1,702 children.
in charity care, health education training, subsidized health services, Medi-Cal services, in-kind contributions and other community benefits.
in community health improvement services and community benefit operations.
In Fiscal Year 2020-2021
July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021
|UCLA Health Community Benefits||Net community benefit expenses|
|Financial assistance (charity care)||$8,160,339|
|Community health improvement services||$2,472,342|
|Health professions education||$88,320,402|
|Subsidized health services||$10,712,756|
|Cash and in-kind contributions||$4,399,840|
|TOTAL, INCLUDING MEDICARE||$525,815,485|
In the spring of 2021, UCLA Health was asked to provide services at a federally sponsored shelter for migrant children arriving in the United States without their parents.
Administrators considered it a humanitarian medical mission. But it soon became clear the work was about much more than medicine.
An emergency intake site at the Long Beach Convention Center opened April 22, 2021. By the time it closed three months later, UCLA Health doctors, nurses, Child Life Specialists and other staff had cared for 1,702 children, the majority from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. They were mostly girls, some as young as 3.
The children were generally healthy, but scared, lonely and tired — far from home and without their families.
It was a feat of organizational efficiency just to get the intake site up and running, as UCLA Health workers transformed an empty convention center into a functional medical facility and 1,000-bed shelter in less than 24 hours.
Diagnostic equipment was brought in. Secure computer networks were set up. An urgent-care center was built, along with medical exam rooms and an isolation tent for children with COVID-19 or other contagious diseases. A staff of bilingual nurses, doctors and specialists flooded in.
Yet, as critical as the medical expertise was, the human connection provided by the team proved equally healing for these vulnerable children.
Child Life Specialist Tracy Reyes Serrano, whose parents immigrated to the U.S., was among those working at the convention center. She told the children about her family’s experience as new arrivals.
“Both my parents immigrated here with my older brother, so it’s something really close to my heart,” Reyes Serrano says, “knowing that a generation back or a generation forward that could have been me.”
A number of luminaries came by the site to visit the children. Guests included legendary Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela and Albert Pujols, who also shared personal stories with the children as they played Wiffle ball with them. That the two were superstar professional athletes didn’t matter. For the children at the shelter, it was just a chance to play ball with people who looked like them and spoke their language.
Still, the caregivers at the shelter, including workers from UCI Health and Children’s Hospital Orange County, never lost sight of their medical mission.
They provided acute care during nearly 6,000 urgent-care visits and administered more than 1,600 standard childhood vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella. The team also provided 806 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to children age 12 and older.
More than 91% of the children housed at the Long Beach shelter were reunited with family members. Others were transferred to longer-term care facilities until reunions could be arranged.
More than a dozen such centers were established across the U.S. to support migrant children arriving in the country. Operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the temporary shelters provided food, clothing, education, recreation and medical care for thousands of minor children from Central American countries.
“UCLA Health is committed to uplifting communities near and far by providing exceptional care that is rooted in kindness and respect,” Medell Briggs-Malonson, MD, MPH, chief of Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for the UCLA Hospital and Clinic System, said when the Long Beach intake site opened. “We are honored to provide compassionate support to the children during this challenging time.”
Here’s a timeline of activities at the Long Beach Convention Center emergency intake site:
By Jennifer Karmarkar
The statistics on the mental health crisis in America are shocking and unsettling: One in every five adults experiences some form of mental illness, and nearly one in 20 adults (13.6 million) lives with a serious mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Yet, fewer than half of those with a mental illness received mental health services in the previous year.
On an average day in Los Angeles, thousands of individuals with serious mental illness, often combined with substance use disorder, are incarcerated in the justice system.
During a time in which many hospitals are reducing their mental health services, UCLA Health is meeting the crisis head-on by expanding its health care capacity in Los Angeles through a world-class, state-of-the-art behavioral health campus in Mid-Wilshire. This new campus, at 5900 W. Olympic Blvd., will help address a long-standing regional requirement for additional behavioral health services — an unmet need exacerbated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The campus is expected to open in 2026.
With a projected investment of $400 million, UCLA Health anticipates expanding its capacity for psychiatric inpatient beds by 30%. The new campus will be in addition to services offered at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center.
This project is an extension of UCLA Health’s 60-year commitment to providing area residents the best in health care and the latest in medical technology.
The Mid-Wilshire location was chosen, in part, to allow UCLA Health to serve a broader geographic area. Comprehensive behavioral health services will include outpatient care, crisis care and child/adolescent, adult and geriatric inpatient services.
“Through this process, we’re going to develop improved ways to meet the needs in the community in our service area for psychiatric care at all levels of care,” said Patrick Loney, RN, BSN, MBA, chief nursing officer for Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA.
UCLA Health has named HGA, a nationally recognized integrated architecture, engineering and planning firm with extensive psychiatric and behavioral health project experience, as master-planning consultants for the Mid-Wilshire project.
The project also is expected to create new jobs in the construction and staffing of the hospital and campus facilities, contributing significantly to the economy of Los Angeles.
The project timeline envisions completion of
the new facilities within five years:
2022 Design development
2022-23 Construction documents and permitting
2026 Completion and licensing
For the latest information on the Mid-Wilshire project, visit midwilshire.uclahealth.org
or email firstname.lastname@example.org with additional questions.
In November 2018, the Office of Community was formed to establish trust in UCLA Health by having a director-on-the-ground street presence and engaging in equitable and impactful health and wellness initiatives in strategic alignment with internal stakeholders and key community partners.
Led by Executive Director Becky Mancuso-Winding, with the support of Fedra Djourabchi, director of community engagement and international partnerships, and Patrese Kirsch, director of wellness and community engagement, the office is primarily focused on local outreach and efforts that have a direct impact on the health and wellness of the Southern California community.
In FY 2020-2021, Office of Community efforts were focused on providing COVID-19 safety education, as well as distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and distance-learning supplies through our corporate and community partnerships, including those with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, Lakers Youth Foundation and the American Heart Association. COVID-safe, drive-through events became the norm as stay-at-home orders precluded gathering indoors.
The Office of Community supported the annual Kershaw’s Challenge, helping to distribute backpacks, food and PPE. The event was held at multiple locations and served more than 3,700 children in Los Angeles County. Additionally, the Office of Community participated in outreach efforts for veterans through UCLA Veterans Affairs Relations & Programs, providing 1,500 veterans with PPE and personal hygiene items.
Through the Office of Community, UCLA Health physicians and nurses provided PPE to an estimated 7,500 people at a drive-through ribbon-cutting event for the newly renovated Magic Johnson Park in South Los Angeles. The Office of Community also supported food giveaways and holiday events at Boys & Girls Clubs throughout Los Angeles County and participated in UCLA Health Operation Beirut to provide critical medical supplies after an explosion destroyed the city’s hospitals.
Internally, the Office of Community is closely aligned in mission and goals with UCLA Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and UCLA Health Marketing to position UCLA Health as the trusted hospital system of choice to our diverse communities throughout Southern California.
For more information about UCLA Health’s Office of Community,
In partnership with Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF), provided FitKits to help promote a curriculum-driven physical fitness program for Los Angeles Unified School District students at two events.
Provided UCLA Health Family Care Bags with masks and hand sanitizers at Dodgers Stadium, shelters and public housing projects. The annual event is held in partnership with LADF.
Provided UCLA Health bags and hand sanitizers at drive-through food- and PPE-giveaway event.
Provided sanitizing wipes and UCLA Health bags in which students could put their laptops and school books for the year of remote learning.
Offered UCLA Health bags and hand sanitizers at YMCA community event for families.
Supported a drive-through ribbon-cutting at the newly renovated 104-acre Magic Johnson Park in South Los Angeles. Volunteer physicians, nurses and staff gave away UCLA Health “Keeping U Safe” bags containing hand sanitizers, sanitizing wipes and masks.
Offered UCLA Health bags, hand sanitizers and masks at a community food drive and PPE drive-through event.
Partnered with LADF to hold a community Halloween celebration for families housed at Nickerson Gardens. Provided “Keeping U Safe” bags containing PPE supplies and giveaway bags for children with treats, sports balls, UNO cards, Hot Wheels cars and Polly Pocket dolls.
In partnership with UCLA Veterans Affairs & Relations Programs, provided UCLA health bags, hygiene kits, masks, hand sanitizers and soaps.
In partnership with LADF, provided cooling towels and UCLA Health “Keeping U Safe” bags containing PPE supplies to families during packet pickup.
In partnership with LADF, provided “Keeping U Safe” bags containing PPE supplies and kids gift bags with sports balls, UNO cards, Hot Wheels cars and Polly Pocket dolls. The event was held to address food insecurity during the holidays.
Offered UCLA health bags and hand sanitizers at the annual community holiday event.
Provided UCLA Health bags and hand sanitizers at drive-through giveaway to support foster youth programs and the unhoused population in the Porter Ranch area.
In partnership with Loyola High School, volunteers provided PPE kits and donated Mattel toys, as well as Lakers apparel and towels and L.A. Dodger bobbleheads and hats, donated by both sports teams.
Provided “Keeping U Safe” bags containing PPE supplies at this holiday community food giveaway.
Contributed “Keeping U Safe” bags containing PPE, ethnically diverse Barbies and action figure packs for families housed at Nickerson Gardens.
Supported families with PPE kits and giveaways during events in El Segundo, Venice and West L.A.
Provided COVID-19 vaccines for staff and families.
Distributed vaccine educational materials and hand sanitizers in Inglewood in partnership with the American Heart Association.
Provided PPE kits and other giveaways during event to mark Mental Health Awareness Month.
Distributed food, PPE kits, games and multicultural toys provided by the Mattel Children’s Foundation, L.A. Dodgers shirts and bobbleheads.
In addition, the Office of Community was involved in several initiatives throughout Los Angeles County:
The Office of Community’s work has been far-reaching to address humanitarian needs. These include Operation Beirut and Operation Armenia projects, in collaboration with UCLA Health International Services and the Promise Armenia Institute, which involved collecting critically needed medical supplies during and following recent tragedies and conflicts in those areas. Our office also helped support winter-storm-ravaged communities in Texas.
On Aug. 4, 2020, an explosion resulting from the detonation of tons of improperly stored ammonium nitrate ripped through the Port of Beirut, Lebanon, damaging more than half the city, killing 218, injuring more than 7,000 and leaving an estimated 30,000 people homeless. Hospitals already struggling in a city reeling from the effects of the pandemic were completely destroyed by the explosion. This forced medical workers to set up emergency medicine tents in the streets, with limited medical supplies.
Almost immediately, UCLA Health sprang into action, launching UCLA Health Operation Beirut to provide support for the victims. Chancellor Gene Block called on John Mazziotta, MD, PhD, vice-chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences and CEO of UCLA Health, to activate a team to pull together supplies. Led by UCLA Health physicians Sammy Saab, MD, and Neveen El-Farra, MD, the team worked with UCLA Health Materials Management, the Office of Community and International Services to gather medical supplies, PPE and equipment to send to Beirut. Volunteers with Medical Aid Initiative, a UCLA undergraduate student-run organization, sorted and packaged the supplies.
Through this multidisciplinary effort, UCLA Health Operation Beirut was able to ship via air cargo 13 pallets of medical supplies, gurneys, imaging devices and other critically needed supplies to Beirut.
The 2020 Artsakh War was an armed conflict in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding territories. The war lasted 44 days and displaced about 46,000 Armenians, more than 25,000 of whom have returned home. Under the umbrella of The Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA, Operation Armenia brought together volunteers from UCLA Health, the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and The Promise Armenian Institute to address Armenia’s most pressing post-war health care needs.
Work groups were established comprising UCLA Health professionals who donated their time to this humanitarian effort:
Additional work groups included Rehabilitation and Wound Care Work Group; Mental Health Work Group; Displaced Populations Work Group; and Medical Supplies Work Group. A program manager has been hired to handle future logistical needs for Operation Armenia.
By Jocelyn Apodaca Schlossberg
Homelessness can take many forms, with people living in shelters, vehicles, in encampments or on the street. It is estimated that 1.5 million people per year experience homelessness in the U.S. According to the most recent annual count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), from 2019 to 2020, 66,433 people in Los Angeles County were unhoused – a 12.7% increase from 2018-2019. The 2021 count was cancelled following the rise of the delta and omicron COVID-19 variants.
Primary causes of homelessness include unaffordable housing, inequitable access to health care, stagnant wages and systemic racism.
Homelessness and health are intricately linked. Being unhoused exacerbates existing health problems and creates new ones. Research shows that people who are unhoused have higher rates of illness and on average die 12 years sooner than the general U.S. population.
In FY 2021, UCLA Health physicians and staff, along with students and faculty from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, adapted to COVID-19 quarantines and protocols. They also increased engagement efforts and outreach to address expanding health care needs and to provide social support for people who are unhoused.
The following are some of the initiatives targeted at local unhoused populations:
UCLA Health launched the Homeless Healthcare Collaborative (HHC), bringing free health care services to unhoused populations across Los Angeles in FY 2021.
Through two medically equipped vans staffed by doctors, nurses and social workers, the HHC offers preventive screenings, administers vaccines, and provides primary and urgent care, psychiatric and behavioral health screenings, and much more.
“It is our hope that by creating this durable structure, we can play a significant role in improving the lives of so many people who too often fall between the cracks,” said Johnese Spisso, president of UCLA Health, CEO of the UCLA Hospital System, and associate vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences. “At UCLA Health, we see first-hand the detrimental health consequences that can be brought on by homelessness.”
The Homeless Healthcare Collaborative has a threefold mission:
“Our goal is to alleviate homelessness by doing what we can to ensure every person has access to the medical care they need,” says Brian Zunner-Keating, MS, RN, director of the UCLA Health Homeless Healthcare Collaborative.
Mary Marfisee, MD, MPH, serves as the clinical programs medical director of the UCLA Homeless Healthcare Collaborative and Catherine Weaver, MD, serves as administrative medical director.
The Student-Run Homeless Clinics (SRHC), part of the Department of Family Medicine since 1989, provides free medical care to people who are unhoused and underserved.
In FY 2021, more than 60 medical students from first through fourth years participated in this program, treating 1,246 homeless patients. In addition to primary care, they provided immunizations, wound care and psychiatric assessments at shelters and street sites throughout Los Angeles. They also provided tents, clothing and shoes with the goal of addressing medical and social issues experienced by the unhoused population with the hope of helping them avoid using emergency departments.
Dr. Marfisee, program director of the SRHC, says students enhanced their outreach by stepping up visits from once weekly to two to three times a week.
“We adapted our practice around COVID-19, constantly moving around to different sites as quarantines were placed and lifted,” Dr. Marfisee said. “We found ways to deliver medical care at multiple street sites and encampments, Project Roomkey hotels, mobile hygiene units, city recreation shelters and continued at Union Rescue Mission, St. Francis Center, Pathways to Home and Hope Gardens.”
In coordination with UCLA Health, the Department of Family Medicine provided more than 1,600 COVID-19 tests to the Project Roomkey sites.
Project Roomkey was a collaboration between the state, county and LAHSA to secure hotel and motel rooms for people experiencing homelessness during the early days of the pandemic.
“We provided more psychiatric assessments than years prior due to COVID-related distress,” Dr. Marfisee says. “For some people living on the streets, it was a challenge to transition into hotel rooms and shelters.”
Dr. Marfisee says she was impressed with the ways medical students worked with the patients to help them transition.
“Because our students had worked with people in the shelters and streets for so long, they were naturally skilled to help people in distress,” she says. “I am always moved by the respectful compassion of the students.”
Charley Jang, a fourth-year medical student, has been volunteering with the SRHC for five years.
The first patient he ever cared for was through the SRHC.
“We had a patient presenting with worsening chest pain and we needed him to go to the emergency room,” Jang says, “but the patient didn’t want to lose his bed at the shelter.”
Jang and Dr. Marfisee helped secure the patient’s belongings and bed at the shelter and were able to get him the medical care he needed.
“You have to listen to your patients to know what issues they face and where they’re coming from,” Jang says. “It leads to better outcomes and allows you to build trust.”
During this time, Dr. Marfisee and colleagues continued and enhanced care for homeless women and children living at the Union Rescue Mission and St. Francis Center in downtown L.A. and in the affiliated transitional program at Hope Gardens Family Center for Women and Children in Sylmar.
Jang says in addition to providing care, volunteers also present educational talks at the shelters.
“We did a talk on skin conditions, discussing what to look for concerning moles. We also did education on diabetes and hypertension,” he said.
Students 4 Students (formerly known as the Bruin Shelter), is run by UCLA undergraduate students. The program initially only housed college students attending UCLA and Santa Monica College, but at the start of FY 2020, the program expanded to provide shelter and support for college students facing homelessness throughout Los Angeles.
Medical students from the Student Run Homeless Clinics worked side-by-side with the S4S group to provide the same free and rapid medical care they have offered to others experiencing homelessness.
For the latest information on the Homeless Healthcare Collaborative, visit uclahealth.org/hhc
or email HHC@mednet.ucla.edu with additional questions.
The Venice Family Clinic has been providing high-quality, comprehensive medical care along with supportive programs and services since 1970. Venice Family Clinic provided on-the-spot care to more than 1,000 people in FY 2021.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Venice Family Clinic has provided care at three hotels as part of Project Roomkey and continues to provide services at temporary shelters and through youth service organizations. VFC also launched a health and justice webinar series to discuss vaccine hesitation, barriers to care and what must be done to build trust among communities of color.
During FY 2021, Venice Family Clinic administered more than 12,500 COVID-19 vaccines.
It is well established that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color and people with co-morbidities. To reduce health disparities, UCLA Health incorporated clinical risk and age with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) to ensure vaccine allocation and distribution was fair and equitable across UCLA Health’s patient population.
The SVI assigns vulnerability based on socioeconomic status (income, education level); household composition and disability (age distribution, single-parent household); minority status and language; and housing type and transportation (multi-unit structures, crowding, transportation access). UCLA integrated the index into each phase of distribution.
Additionally, UCLA Health held a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for general service staff relatives older than 65.
Doris Rodriguez, an environmental services senior supervisor at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, brought in her mother to receive the vaccine. Rodriguez’s 69-year-old mother is a three-time cancer survivor.
“What’s been scary is that I work at the hospital and my husband works for UPS, so we could have brought COVID to the house at any time,” she says. “It was a blessing for UCLA to give us the opportunity to get her the vaccine.”
Amid the worst national blood shortage in more than a decade, and a second pandemic year characterized by repeated surges of infection, the UCLA Blood & Platelet Center managed to bring its supply of blood, platelets and plasma to near pre-pandemic levels.
Kathy Zagala, manager of donor recruitment at the Blood & Platelet Center, credits the commitment and creativity of her staff and the support of UCLA Health leadership and the greater Los Angeles community with keeping the hospital’s blood supply consistent, despite the challenges of the past year.
“We wouldn’t be having donors at our doorstep if it weren’t for our front-liners and partners,” she says, “and their passion and dedication to our patients.”
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a serious slump in blood donations in 2020 as schools and workplaces shut down, along with the blood drives routinely held there. This contributed to critical blood shortages across the country.
High school students typically provide about 77% of the donations received by the UCLA Blood & Platelet Center, according to donor recruiter Deborah Alter. But with continued remote learning and inconsistent school openings during 2021, she had to find a new approach to connecting with local students.
That outreach was both old-fashioned and modern: Alter reached out by phone to her school and community contacts, who used social media to promote neighborhood blood drives. Instead of being held on high school campuses, these drives popped up at houses of worship and community centers across Los Angeles.
“We didn’t want to lose the relationships with these wonderful schools that we’ve had for decades,” Alter says. “The community just rallied around our program. So instead of putting up a poster on campus, they might do Instagram, Twitter and that kind of recruitment. It became a community-type of blood drive in addition to the actual high school supporting it.”
Students and their parents turned out in force to donate side by side.
Donors were just as enthusiastic inside UCLA Health hospitals, as health care workers and people with hospitalized loved ones learned about the blood shortage and offered to help.
“December was probably our highest collections since the pandemic, because everyone from our UCLA family came out to donate in order to support our patients,” Zagala says. “We can’t thank them enough.”
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center held 31 days of blood drives, collecting 687 units, while UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center held 22 days of drives and collected 597 units.
Donors who regularly come to the Blood & Platelet Center started donating more frequently, says Matthew Hoffman, who works with special-donation recruitment.
Hoffman helps coordinate donations of convalescent plasma for treating COVID-19; directed donations, through which friends and loved ones can donate to support a specific patient; and donations for people with hereditary hemochromatosis, a condition that leads to too much iron in the blood. These individuals can give blood more frequently than the recommended 56-day interval between visits — and their doctors often encourage them to.
Most donation centers can’t accept donations from these individuals, but UCLA can. “That gave this pool of donors who’ve never donated before this urge to come in,” Hoffman says, adding that the Blood & Platelet Center began accepting these donations in December 2020.
Platelet donors, in general, also started coming in more often. Directed donors would give blood even if they weren’t a match for their loved one, Hoffman says, just to replenish the supply in a time of crisis.
With this multifaceted support, the Blood & Platelet Center is back to providing nearly 70% of the blood needed at UCLA Health.
The national blood shortage raised awareness of the importance of a consistent blood supply, Zagala says. “It brought an appreciation of the fact that we need to keep blood on our shelves,” she says. “It’s not something that can be taken for granted.”
For the latest information on the Blood & Platelet Center, visit uclahealth.org/gotblood.
UCLA Health’s commitment to serving the Los Angeles community, including those who are most in need, expanded in FY 2021 when it became part of the Healthcare Anchor Network (HAN), a national collaboration of health care systems building more inclusive and sustainable local economies. The goal of HAN is to improve and enrich communities in partnership with other local stakeholders, such as community and faith-based organizations, government agencies and local businesses.
“UCLA Health has a deep commitment to uplifting our various communities. This designation will allow us to make more of an economic, social and health-focused impact,” says Medell Briggs-Malonson, MD, MPH, chief of Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for the UCLA Hospital and Clinic System.
In 2021, the Office of HEDI expanded its strategic objectives from five goals to six pillars: our people; patient experience; quality, safety and value; strategic operations and growth; financial sustainability; and community service and engagement.
In addition to expanding the office staff and strategic goals, the Office of HEDI has put forth several initiatives:
UCLA Health leadership understands that a diverse and inclusive health care workforce and environment results in better care, service and health outcomes for patients.
UCLA Health showed its commitment to health equity, diversity and inclusion through an increased focus on gender health and providing culturally competent care to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) patients. According to Amy K. Weimer, MD, co-director of the Gender Health Program, which was launched in 2016, this commitment means providing holistic health care to LGBTQ patients that is sensitive to their unique gender and sexuality perspectives.
In 2019, the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA launched a fellowship to address LGBTQ health care needs and inequities — areas that are often overlooked in medical school and residency training.
“We wanted to create a multispecialty curriculum that mostly includes primary care, but also HIV prevention and treatment, mental health, anal cancer prevention, substance use treatment and prevention, gender health, and more,” says George Yen, fellowship co-director and assistant clinical professor of internal medicine. “We thought that the whole program needed to be holistic and integrated within each other.”
The objective of the UCLA LGBTQ Healthcare Fellowship is to train future primary care physicians to be culturally competent, comfortable, sensitive and clinically knowledgeable when delivering health care to diverse sexual and gender minority (SGM) individuals. The fellowship has four pillars, with advocacy, research, educational and clinical components, the latter of which provides immersive experiences in sexual and behavioral health, transgender care and hormone management, gender-affirming surgery, mental health and addiction medicine.
In partnership with the Office of HEDI, Dr. Emery Chang now serves as the LGBTQ medical director and Dr. Weimer serves as the medical director of UCLA Health’s Gender Health Program.
The Gender Health Program provides health care to children, adolescents and adults who are transgender or gender diverse. A multidisciplinary team of specialty physicians from primary care, surgery, endocrinology, gynecology, urology, psychiatry, pediatrics and behavioral health, as well as care coordinators, work together to provide comprehensive and compassionate care in a safe and welcoming environment.
In addition to clinical care, the Gender Health Program offers research and education.
The LGBTQ Health Film Series features videos on coming out, celebrating the transgender and non-binary community and LGBTQ Health advocates, and conversations with LGBTQ youth and their families.
The UCLA Pride Network, an affinity group and employee and trainee resource group, has more than 400 members. The Pride Network helps plan programs such as the annual Pride event. In FY 2021 the Health System hosted Out, Proud and Well: The UCLA PRIDE Drag Showcase, featuring national and local drag queens.
During the event, headliner Ongina shared with the audience that she is HIV-positive and stressed the importance of battling HIV-related stigma.
More than 1.2 million Americans live with HIV. Though treatments allow patients to have a normal life span, stigma and shame remain pervasive. Dr. Chang, Ongina’s former physician, was kind and passionate and “always listened to my concerns,” she said.
“Thank you for giving me the best health care that I received in my lifetime,” Ongina said. “Being part of this (showcase) feels full circle.”
The program offers:
UCLA’s “empower” program connects patients and families to an expert team of attending psychiatrists and psychologists as well as supervised advanced trainees who provide comprehensive mental health care. It is a joint initiative of the UCLA Division of Child Psychiatry and the UCLA Division of Population Behavioral Health designed to promote well-being and resilience in LGBTQ individuals of all ages.
The UCLA Center for Clinical AIDS Research and Education (CARE) provides state-of-the-art medical care and conducts clinical trials for people living with HIV and AIDS. It also provides HIV-prevention services.
Research shows that specific risk factors and health disparities may create a disproportionate cancer burden for LGBTQ people. The Center provides patients with sessions that sensitize participants to LGBTQ cancer risk factors and the unique issues faced by LGBTQ cancer patients and their families.
For information about UCLA LGBTQ Health Care and
Gender Health, visit uclahealth.org/lgbtq.
The 2020-2021 school year was unprecedented, with students spending the large majority of the academic year learning remotely. This environment meant traditional school-based programs, including SBSM’s fitness centers and curriculums, were largely inaccessible and forced to adapt. However, Sound Body Sound Mind maintained a strong commitment to its core mission of helping youth make healthier lifestyle choices regardless of the unique circumstances of the school year.
Across nine different events, UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind facilitated the distribution of more than 5,500 home physical education kits in some of Los Angeles’ most high-need communities. These kits included fitness accessories such as jump ropes and cones, along with access to digital resources that encouraged home-based physical activity for youth and their families. This critical effort was supported by a large network of outside organizations, including Beyond the Bell, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, the Lakers Youth Foundation, the Play Equity Fund, the United States Tennis Association, and many more, resulting in more than $250,000 worth of in-kind support.
In partnership with UCLA Health Sports Performance powered by EXOS, SBSM brought its full nutrition curriculum online with a series of 15 video lessons that explored the fundamentals of healthy eating. In addition to these video nutrition lessons, SBSM and EXOS created two digital fitness exercise series to further encourage exercise from home. These digital resources were a core component of SBSM’s weekly remote learning digests, which also included various health, wellness and teaching resources for students and educators alike. Throughout the duration of remote learning, all teachers in SBSM’s school network received access to these innovative resources.
SBSM launched a multi-year project to bring its full program to all middle schools and high schools in the Glendale Unified School District. During the 2020-2021 school year, new fitness centers were installed at all four middle schools in Glendale. These new programs will provide state-of-the-art health and wellness resources to more than 4,200 students. With this expansion, SBSM now supports schools in six schools districts across Los Angeles.
Comprehensive health and wellness extend beyond exercise and nutrition. The COVID-19 pandemic had far-reaching impacts on our community, one of which was a dramatic decline in youth mental health. In an effort to support the mental health of youth, SBSM teamed up with UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center to create and pilot a 10-week youth mindfulness program. This new resource offered educators detailed lesson plans for exploring mindfulness in their classrooms. These videos and lesson plans combined to create a complete introduction to mindful awareness practices that was specifically geared toward youth.
An increasing priority of the Sound Body Sound Mind program is to ensure that all schools in its network are fully resourced and supported with the key resources needed to provide impactful physical education. To this end, the 2020-2021 school year saw the launch of SBSM’s new Program Enhancement initiative. Program Enhancement provides significantly more support than previous efforts led by SBSM, with a focus on not only repairing fitness center equipment, but also replacing machines, installing new equipment, and ensuring schools receive professional development on all SBSM curriculums. The first Program Enhancement cohort led by SBSM supported 12 middle schools and high schools.
In 2021, UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind was awarded maximum funding in the inaugural UCLA Health Innovation Challenge’s Health Equity category. This funding has been critical to SBSM’s focus on supporting schools in under-resourced communities, where access to health and wellness resources is limited.
Further supporting the focus on health equity has been the integration of Area Deprivation Index and Social Vulnerability Index data sets in Sound Body Sound Mind’s programming. The use of these data sets has allowed SBSM to better understand the communities where schools are located and has helped with the development of a roadmap to better direct resources and investments in a way that promotes greater health equity across Los Angeles.
Also included in SBSM’s drive for greater health equity was the expansion of bilingual resources for students and families. Take-home workouts in our home physical education kits were available in English and Spanish. Additionally, student surveys were offered in Spanish for the first time. Increasing accessibility has been a crucial step in ensuring a greater adoption of our resources throughout our community.
UCLA Health has ramped up efforts to reduce its carbon footprint that began several years ago.
When the pandemic struck in 2020, media was flooded with images of health care workers donning plastic trash bags amid a shortage of personal protective equipment.
That didn’t happen at UCLA Health.
Thanks to a robust sustainability program, the health care system five years earlier had implemented a reusable isolation gowns program at its UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center and Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. At the time, it was one of only a handful of health care systems to do so.
Since the program’s inception, more than 10 million washable isolation gowns have been issued, diverting more than 2,500 tons of material from the landfill and saving nearly $4 million over the life of the program.
That’s just one example of UCLA Health’s ongoing commitment to reducing its environmental footprint and recognizing the impact it has on the community it serves.
In alignment with University of California’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2025, UCLA Health is focusing on 10 areas of sustainable practice: climate protection, clean energy, green building, transportation, sustainable operations, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable procurement, sustainable foodservice and sustainable water systems.
UCLA Health’s sustainability efforts are being recognized. In 2021, RRUCLA received the highest achievement for excellence in sustainability and is ranked as one of the Top 25 hospitals in the country by Practice Greenhealth. SMUCLA earned Practice Greenhealth’s Emerald Award, just below the Top 25.
Additionally, UCLA Health’s Greening the OR Committee was recognized for innovative programs in its surgical suites that focus on waste minimization, clinical plastic recycling, reformulation of operating room kits, single-use device reprocessing, use of reusable sterilization cases and more.
Here are some highlights of UCLA Health’s sustainability efforts:
Carbon footprint: UCLA Health has seen a 22% decrease in carbon emissions at its Santa Monica and Ronald Reagan campuses since implementing an energy efficiency program in 2015. The hospital system is working to incorporate additional clinics and buildings into the scope of the program.
Energy consumption: UCLA Health’s facilities team works to reduce energy consumption by replacing less efficient lighting with LEDs and installing occupancy motion sensors to turn off lighting when rooms aren’t in use. The team also works on retro-commissioning projects, equipment upgrades, building automation, and other projects to further reduce consumption. The goal is to reduce energy use intensity 2% per year.
Sustainability procurement: At UCLA Health, 15% of the decision criteria for new products or requests for proposals is determined based on that product or vendor’s sustainability performance. A database is being developed that will score vendors on such attributes as sustainable packaging, carbon emissions and chemicals of concern.
Transportation: UCLA Transportation has a short-term goal to equip 2% of parking spaces with electric-vehicle charging stations. To date, the supply stands at 1.5% and the long-term goal is to achieve more than 4%. By 2025, UCLA Health expects its staff and patient transport fleet to be fully electric.
Waste reduction: UCLA Health has a goal to divert 50% of materials from landfill and is working toward becoming a zero-waste (90% diversion or higher) health care system. The landfill diversion rate currently is around 30%, near the national average for health care facilities. Recent initiatives include greener bed linens, reusable coffee mugs and totes, reusable sharps containers, food-waste and recycling collection and paper towel composting.
Single-use plastics: UCLA Health in 2021 began the first phase of the UC single-use plastics policy. With a goal of being plastic-free by 2023, the health care system is transitioning away from single-use plastic including bags, food service items and beverage bottles in all retail and dining locations. Evaluations are underway to see where plastic waste can be eliminated in other departments.
Water conservation: In October 2021, UCLA Health eliminated the sale of water in plastic bottles and installed hydration stations in both hospital cafeterias. Plans are to remodel the high-low drinking fountains with no-touch sensor bottle-filling stations to encourage the use of reusables.
In addition, drought-tolerant landscaping was installed on the exterior of both hospital campuses. At RRUCLA, artificial turf was installed on the patio outside the cafeteria to decrease irrigation needed for watering grass, and in 2020, SMUCLA completed a renovation of the parkways surrounding the campus as part of the city of Santa Monica’s rebate program.