Psychiatric Care Coming to MLK Medical Campus

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Nearly one in four adults—or 57.7 million Americans—have a mental health disorder and need help. In Los Angeles, in desperate need of psychiatric services, yet there are too few available resources and outlets for treatment. Hospital emergency rooms have become ground zero for psychiatric patients in need of help—providing only temporary intervention at great expense.

Recently, community leaders and healthcare providers gathered to discuss plans for the Martin Luther King Jr. Psychiatric Urgent Care Center, a new facility that is expected to open next spring. The center will provide prompt, quality and culturally sensitive care to both adults and teens.

The center, which will be on the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Campus where the new Hospital and Outpatient Center will open, will offer psychiatric evaluation and assessment, crisis intervention, medication support and medication management. Also available will be individual and family treatment, alcohol and drug counseling and prevention, domestic violence screening and referrals to other community resources where people can seek help.[/raw]

The center will be run by Exodus Recovery, Inc., which has been providing psychiatric and chemical dependency treatment services in Southern California since 1989. The organization has developed and established several hospital-based inpatient and outpatient programs, a psychiatric and internal medicine provider group and a behavioral health managed care company.

The care received will be immediate and comprehensive including appropriate discharge within 24 hours to services spanning the entire spectrum of mental health treatment within the community,” said Luana Murphy, Chief Executive of Exodus Recovery, Inc. “This results in a significant decrease in the number of clients requiring hospitalizations, freeing up inpatient resources for those most in need.”

Although there is an emphasis on serving the indigent and Medi-Cal patients, no one will be turned away. Anyone over the age of 13 will be accepted, however, adolescents who are admitted will be housed upstairs and adults downstairs.

The approach to helping patients will be all encompassing, with psychologists, social workers, nurses, case workers and housing specialists on hand to help people get back on their feet. In addition, the center is expected to have strong ties to community centers, faith-based organizations and housing resources to continue offering services to those in need.

“Young people often react positively from the immediate attention and services provided in a more calming environment than can be found in a busy Emergency Department,” added Murphy. “They interact not only with professionals but will also be in the company of other adolescents with whom they can relate.”

School Based Health Clinics Deliver Holistic Care

School-based clinics are the wave of the future for wellness and prevention services. To that end, creating and expanding school based health centers has been a priority for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas for the past decade. As a state legislator, he authored several bills in support of school based health centers, and he has continued that work with many partners, including the Los Angeles Unified School District, St. John’s Well Child & Family Center and other private and nonprofit entities, collaborating to build 12 new school-based health centers in the Second District. At these centers, students and their families are offered both physical and mental health services in one place — providing easy access to care close to where people live, work and study. Considering that thousands of students have limited, inadequate or no regular access to preventative health care, the school-based health center model is set to profoundly impact the way healthcare is delivered.

FACT BOX

What is a school-based health center?

A school-based health center is a medical clinic located on a school campus. It provides comprehensive preventive primary and mental health services to students. Many are also open to the community. Most school-based health centers in the Second District are operated by private health care clinics that get some funding fromLos AngelesCounty’s Department of Health Services to help them serve patients without insurance.

Why locate a health center on a school campus?

The goal is to make healthcare easily accessible to young people and their families, as well as to the wider community. Studies have shown that students who receive good health care do better in school and are more likely to graduate. Also, many families feel more comfortable getting health care in familiar and trusted settings, like schools.

Are school-based health centers open to the community?

Yes. Many centers even have separate entrances – one facing the school for students and one facing the street for the community. These centers can serve as a medical home for the entire family because they are close, convenient and affordable.

What type of services do school-based health centers provide?

It varies site by site. Most school-based health centers provide a range of health care services, including physical examinations, mental health services, dental care, health education, family planning and substance abuse counseling.

How many school-based health centers are there in the County of Los Angeles?

There are 60 school-based health centers and four mobile vans that provide health services throughoutLos AngelesCounty. There are 24 in the Second District and eight new ones that will open by January of 2013. More information about the new SBHCs, including contact information, can be found in the site profile portion of this page.

How much do school-based health center health care services cost?

Cost is based on each patient’s ability to pay. Many school-based health centers will help patients enroll in free and low cost State and County health care programs, if they are eligible

Are centers cost effective?

Yes. School-based health centers significantly reduce costly and inappropriate emergency room use.

How do I access services at a school based health centers?

Walk-in hours as well as scheduled appointments are available. Please click through the site profiles in order to find the center closest to you.


Wellness Center at Manual Arts High School


4085 S. Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90037 http://goo.gl/maps/kabhJ
Appointment Line (323) 541-1631 Englishx1 Spanishx9

Hours of Operation

MF 8:30 am – 4 pm
Sat 7 am – 2:30 pm
Summer hours may vary

Wellness Center Providers

St. John’s Well Child & Family Center

LAUSD School Mental Health
LA Child Guidance Center

LAC Probation Department

Services Offered On-Site

  • Primary care and treatment
  • Mental health
  • Immunizations
  • Prescriptions
  • Lab services
  • Physical exams
  • STD/HIV testing
  • Vision and hearing
  • Women’s health
  • Reproductive health
  • Prenatal care
  • Nutrition
  • Health insurance enrollment

Wellness Center at Washington Preparatory High School

1555 West 110th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90047 http://goo.gl/maps/BQ5A3
Appointment Line (323) 541-1631 Englishx1 Spanishx9

Hours of Operation
T-Th 8:30 am – 5 pm
Summer hours may vary

Wellness Providers:

St. John’s Well Child & Family Center

LAUSD School Mental Health

Special Service for Groups

Services Offered On-Site:

  • Primary care and treatment
  • Primary care and treatment
  • Mental health
  • Dental
  • Immunizations
  • Prescriptions
  • Lab services
  • Physical exams
  • STD/HIV testing
  • Vision and hearing
  • Reproductive health
  • Prenatal care
  • Nutrition
  • Health insurance enrollment

Wellness Center at Carson High School


270 East 223rd Street
Carson, CA 90745 http://goo.gl/maps/dOXeY

Appointment Line (310) 802-6170

Hours of Operation:
M W F 7:30 am – 4:30 pm (7:30-12pm every other Friday Summer hours may vary)

Wellness Center Providers:

South Bay Family Health Care Center

LAUSD School Mental Health

Children’s Bureau

Children’s Institute

Masada Homes

Harbor Area Substance Abuse Treatment Center

Services Offered On-Site:

  • Primary care and treatment
  • Mental health
  • Dental
  • Immunizations
  • Prescriptions
  • Lab services
  • Physical exams
  • STD/HIV Testing
  • Vision and hearing
  • Women’s Health
  • Reproductive health
  • Prenatal care
  • Nutrition
  • Health insurance enrollment
  • Health Education

Wellness Center at Jefferson High School

Open Date October 18, 2012 (GO same date)
3410 S. Hooper Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90011 http://goo.gl/maps/Zoiqb

Appointment Line: (323) 908-4200

Hours of Operation
MWF 8 am – 3:30 pm
Summer hours may vary

Wellness Center Providers

South Central Family Health Center

LAUSD School Mental Health

Services Offered On-Site

  • Primary care and treatment
  • Mental health
  • Dental
  • Immunizations
  • Prescriptions
  • Lab services
  • Physical exams
  • STD/HIV testing
  • Vision and hearing
  • Women’s health
  • Reproductive health
  • Prenatal care
  • Nutrition
  • Health insurance enrollment/li>
  • Health education
  • Crisis intervention

Wellness Center at Fremont High School


7821 S. Avalon Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90003 http://goo.gl/maps/MfNyz
Appointment Line (323) 404-9270

Hours of Operation
M 8:30 am – 12:00 pm
T , TH 8:30 am – 5 pm

Wellness Center Providers:

UMMA Clinic
Special Service for Groups

LAUSD Mental Health
LA Land Trust
Integrated School Health (LAC: DCFS, DHS, DMH, DPS and Probation)

Services Offered On-Site

  • Primary care and treatment
  • Mental health
  • Immunizations
  • Prescriptions
  • Lab services
  • Physical exams
  • STD/HIV testing
  • Vision and hearing
  • Women’s health
  • Reproductive health
  • Prenatal care
  • Nutrition
  • Health insurance enrollment
  • Health education

Wellness Center at Dominguez High School


15301 S. San Jose
Compton, CA 90221 http://goo.gl/maps/vt73o
Appointment Line (562) 630-6825 (Englishx1, Spanishx9)

Hours of Operation
MTWThF 8:30 am – 5 pm
Sat 7 am – 3 pm
Summer hours may vary

Wellness Center Providers:

St. John’s Well Child & Family Center
SHIELDS for Families

Services Offered On-Site

  • Primary care and treatment
  • Mental health
  • Dental
  • Immunizations
  • Prescriptions
  • Lab services
  • Physical exams
  • STD/HIV testing
  • Vision and hearing
  • Women’s health
  • Reproductive health
  • Prenatal care
  • Nutrition
  • Health insurance enrollment
  • Health education

Jordan High School

10110 South Juniper Street
Los Angeles, CA 90002 http://goo.gl/maps/mkmkP

Appointment Line: (323) 488-5915

Hours of Operation:
T Th 7:30 am – 4:30 pm
F 1 – 5 pm

Wellness Providers:
Watts Healthcare Corporation
LAUSD School Mental Health

Services Offered On-Site:

  • Primary care and treatment
  • Mental health
  • Immunizations
  • Lab services
  • Physical exams
  • Vision and hearing
  • Reproductive health
  • Prenatal care
  • Nutrition

 

Hyde Park Elementary School

6505 8th Avenue
Bungalow 46
Los Angeles, CA 90043 http://goo.gl/maps/9KuVD
Appointment Line: (323) 750-9232

Hours of Operation:
M W TH F 8:30 am – 5 pm
T 8:30 am – 6:30 pm
Sat 7 am – 3:30 pm
Dental only available on Thursdays

Wellness Providers:
St. John’s Well Child & Family Center

Services Offered On-Site:

  • Primary care and treatment
  • Immunizations
  • Prescriptions
  • Lab services
  • Physical exams
  • STD/HIV testing
  • Vision and hearing
  • Women’s health
  • Prenatal care
  • Reproductive health
  • Nutrition
  • Health insurance enrollment
  • Dental services

 

Dorsey High School Mobile Clinic (students only)

3537 Farmdale Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90016 http://goo.gl/maps/9vaGt

Appointment Line: (323) 730-1920

Hours of Operation:
M 8:30 am – 10:30 am

Wellness Providers:
To Help Everyone Clinic (T.H.E. Clinic)

Services Offered On-Site:

  • Primary care and treatment
  • Immunizations
  • Prescriptions
  • Lab services
  • Physical exams
  • STD/HIV testing
  • Vision and hearing
  • Women’s health
  • Prenatal care
  • Reproductive health
  • Nutrition

 

Crenshaw High School Mobile Clinic (students only)

5010 11th Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90043 http://goo.gl/maps/ozmgg

Appointment Line: (323) 730-1920

Hours of Operation:
F 8:30 am – 10:30 am

Wellness Providers:
To Help Everyone Clinic (T.H.E. Clinic)

Services Offered On-Site:

  • Primary care and treatment
  • Immunizations
  • Prescriptions
  • Lab services
  • Physical exams
  • STD/HIV testing
  • Vision and hearing
  • Women’s health
  • Prenatal care
  • Reproductive health
  • Nutrition

 

Holmes Avenue Elementary School (Students Only)

5108 Holmes Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90058 http://goo.gl/maps/SxeuM

Appointment Line: (323) 587-3638

Hours of Operation:
MTWThF 8 am – 2:30 pm
Days and hours may vary by school calendar.

Wellness Providers:
LAUSD

Services Offered On-Site:

  • Immunizations
  • Physical exams

 

Los Angeles High School (Students Only)

4650 W. Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90019 http://goo.gl/maps/4QMlC

Appointment Line: (213) 747-5542

Hours of Operation:
TTh 7:30 am – 4 pm

Wellness Providers:
Eisner Pediatric & Family Medical Center

Services Offered On-Site:

  • Immunizations
  • Prescriptions
  • Lab services
  • Physical exams
  • STD/HIV testing
  • Prenatal care
  • Reproductive health

Foshay Learning Center

3751 S Harvard Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90018 http://bit.ly/1ccwdMJ

Appointment Line: (323) 373-9400

Hours of Operation:
MTWThF 8 am – 5 pm

 

Wellness Providers:
Northeast Community Clinic

Services Offered On-Site:

  • Primary care and treatment
  • Physical exams
  • STD/HIV testing
  • Immunizations
  • Prescriptions
  • Family planning
  • Birth control
  • Health and nutrition education

Gardena High School (Students Only)

1301 West 182nd Street
Gardena, CA 90248 http://goo.gl/maps/oyrH8

Appointment Line: (310) 808-1180

Hours of Operation
MWThF 8 am – 4 pm

Wellness Providers:
Los Angeles County DHS
LAUSD

Services Offered On-Site:

  • Primary care and treatment
  • Immunizations
  • Prescriptions
  • Physical exams
  • STD/HIV testing
  • Family planning
  • Birth control
  • Health and nutrition education
  • Mental health (Thursday & Friday)
  • Peer health educators

S. Mark Taper Health Clinic at The Accelerated School                                                     

4000 S. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90037 http://goo.gl/maps/2Vjw1

Appointment Line: (323) 908-4242

Hours of Operation:
M T W TH F 8 am – 4:30 pm

Wellness Providers:
South Central Family Health Center

Services Offered On-Site:

  • Preventive Health Screenings
  • School Sports Physicals
  • Health Counseling and Education
  • Routine Scheduled Immunizations for Children
  • Routine and Comprehensive Checkups for Children, Youth, and Adults

Lennox School District

10223 Firmona Ave
Lennox, California 90304 http://goo.gl/maps/E8Nhx

Appointment Line: (310) 695-4017

Hours of Operation:
M W 8 am – 5 pm
TH  1 pm – 5 pm

Wellness Providers:
To Help Everyone Clinic (T.H.E. Clinic)

Services Offered On-Site:

  • Primary care and treatment
  • Immunizations
  • Prescriptions
  • Lab services
  • Physical exams
  • STD/HIV testing
  • Vision and hearing
  • Women’s health
  • Prenatal care
  • Reproductive health
  • Nutrition
  • Dental Services coming soon

Culver City High School

4401 Elenda Street

Culver City, CA 90230 http://goo.gl/maps/o0WL

Appointment Line: (310) 842 – 4328

Hours of Operation:
Medical Services
M 8 am – 12 pm
W 8 am – 12 pm

Mental Health Services
MThF 8 am – 3 pm
W 8 am – 12 pm

Wellness Providers:
Venice Family Clinic

Services Offered On-Site:

  • Primary care and treatment
  • Immunizations
  • Prescriptions
  • Lab services
  • Physical exams
  • STD/HIV testing
  • Vision and hearing
  • Women’s health
  • Prenatal care
  • Reproductive health
  • Nutrition

Locke High School

316 East 111st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90061 http://goo.gl/maps/MkQEw

Appointment Line: (323) 450-2376

 

Hours of Operation:
M W 7:30 am – 4:30 pm
F 7:30  – 11:30 am

Wellness Providers:
Watts Healthcare Corporation
LAUSD Mental Health
SHIELDS for Families (Mental Health)
Green Dot

Services Offered On-Site:

  • Primary care and treatment
  • Mental health
  • Immunizations
  • Lab services
  • Physical exams
  • Vision and hearing
  • Reproductive health
  • Prenatal care
  • Nutrition

MLK Hospital Construction Nears Completion

[raw]Moving forward with construction of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Willowbrook, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved $29 million to complete the County’s share of construction work on the facility within the next 60 to 90 days.

After the construction of hospital, which is 92 percent complete, is finished, the staffing and equipping of the facility will begin; the hospital is expected to open in early 2015. Workers will be on site, working overtime and on weekends to meet the Oct. 31 deadline to complete construction of the hospital. The adjacent Outpatient Center is also near completion and is scheduled to open in late spring of 2014.
After the board vote, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas emphasized that the hospital, part of an entire medical complex with a focus on preventive care in addition to inpatient services, will be a model of cutting edge care for the region and the nation.

“We’re making wonderful progress, and I really think it’s important to understand that this is more than a hospital,” he said. “This is an entire medical campus that’s in the works. And if it takes a little more time to get more than what was anticipated, I can live with that. But it will not be second rate health care for the people of this portion of our county. It will be as good as it can possibly get. That’s why we’re taking care to build a first-rate, 21st century medical village.”

[/raw] The funding pays for such necessary items as bringing utilities up to seismic codes, replacing structural floor slabs and rebuilding deteriorating sewer pipes—all issues that came to light as workers began renovating the 40-year-old structure.

The board, which approved of the motion brought by Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, was approved 4-0.

Dozens Take Part in Health Walk


Gloria Serra, a volunteer at the UMMA Community Clinic in South Los Angeles, is always giving tips to clients seeking health advice. At the top of her list—exercise. So, on a recent Friday, she put on her walking shoes, visor and sunglasses and joined dozens of other volunteers, residents and healthcare providers for a two-mile walk to celebrate health and fitness.

Although the sun’s intense heat pressed down on them, Serra and the other walkers marched on enthusiastically. Serra says she has seen more interest among clients in talking about the connection between obesity and major health problems. They want help.

“A lot of people are asking about healthier things to eat,” she said. “I tell them not to drink soda and instead to drink water.” She says she has also mastered the art of making “green” juice with kale, spinach and cactus paddles as part of her daily vitamin intake and to cleanse her body.

The organized walk, now in its second year, came after the Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas that commends the important service of health centers by proclaiming August 11 thru the 17, National Health Center Week in Los Angeles County. Nearly 100 people participated.

The walk, which began at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center on W. 58th Street and ended at Mt. Carmel Park on 70th , was done in a partnership with the Southside Coalition of Community Health Centers, the Empowerment Congress, UMMA Community Clinic, St. John’s Well Child and Family and L.A. Care.

“This walk exemplifies the importance of exercise and fitness,” said Jim Mangia, CEO of St. John’s. “It also creates a sense of stronger and healthier communities.”

Indeed, many of the participants walked with their children in tow or in strollers. Some, like Amelia Amaro, who brought her 4-year-old daughter Janele, thought it was important to set a good example.

“It feels good to walk,” she said as she sipped on a bottle of cold water. “I walk every morning when I take my son to kindergarten.”

Maria Reyes was visiting the park with her children, Adan,3, and Brian, 1, when she saw the event and decided to visit. While she strolled along, receiving information from healthcare providers about healthcare enrollment, emergency preparedness, reproductive health and blood pressure tests, her sons munched on bananas, watermelon slices and grapes.

“This is great,” she said and then looked down with pride at her two boys. “And they have a great appetite.”

 

Construction Update: Moving toward completion, MLK Outpatient Center Gets Glassed In

  Wonderful progress continues to be made at the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center Campus. Construction of the new MLK outpatient center is more than 80% complete, and this short video shows workers installing the very  last pane of glass onto the façade of this beautiful new facility. More than 150 skilled construction workers are hard at work on the new building, putting in complex electrical wiring, finishing rooms and landscaping the grounds on the site. When it opens next year, the center will  far surpass what is typically expected in a “clinic”. Through approximately 70 specialty clinics and an urgent care center that will operate seven days a week, 16 hours per day, the outpatient center will provide a full range of primary and specialty services. The outpatient clinics will specialize in pediatric, obstetric and genecology services, as well as ophthalmology, orthopedics, maxillofacial and even neurosurgery treatment. The center also will have clinics for special populations, including pediatric foster children and people with HIV/AIDS.   Also, an ambulatory surgery center will offer elective outpatient surgical procedures, rehabilitation services and a wide array of diagnostic services. Stay tuned for more updates!

International Conference on Social Work Highlights Health and Mental Health

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Haluk Soydan, conference co-chair and associate dean of research, presents Soon Noi Goh with a set of golden chopsticks symbolizing the shift of conference leadership to a delegation from Singapore, which will host the event in 2016. (USC Photo/Eric Lindberg)

The USC School of Social work and Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health hosted the International Conference on Social Work in Health and Mental Health recently, the first time the event has ever been held in the United States. Hundreds of social work researchers, clinicians and policy makers discussed the most recent breakthroughs in health and mental health.

Marilynn L. Flynn, the dean of the USC School of Social Work, noted that Los Angeles is a microcosm of the world and that it is on the leading edge of social work innovations.

“Southern California and the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area really is an ideal location to focus on the role of social work in client-centered health and mental health,” said Flynn.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas addressed the attendees and noted the importance of good social work in helping people overcome abuse, addiction and mental illness.

“It seems to me we owe a great debt of gratitude to social workers,” he said. “They help prevent crises and counsel individuals, families and communities to cope more effectively with the stresses of everyday life.”

[/raw] For the full story, click here.

Affordable Care Act 101

The Affordable Care Act will go into effect January 1, 2014 and millions of Americans, ranging from health care providers to patients to employers, will be affected.

Below is a presentation by a panel of experts to explain the implications of the Affordable Care Act and the delivery of care.

The event was moderated by Lucien Wulsin, Executive Director and Founder of Insure the Uninsured Project. Presenters included David Panush, Director of External Affairs of Covered California; Katie Murphy, Managing Attorney for Neighborhood Legal Services; Tangerine Brigham, Deputy Director of Managed Care for Los Angeles County Department of Health Services; and Roxana Molina, Division Chief of Medi-Cal and In Home Supportive Services Program from Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services.

All of the materials from the forum are listed below:

The following websites offer more information on the Affordable Care Act and its implementation.

Insure the Uninsured Project (ITUP)
www.itup.org

DHS Healthy Way LA (HWLA)
www.ladhs.org/hwla

Department of Public and Social Services
www.dpss.lacounty.gov/dpss/health

Covered California
www.coveredca.com

School Health Centers Deliver Holistic Care

For nearly a decade, creating and expanding school based health centers has been a priority for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. As a state legislator, Ridley-Thomas authored several bills in support of school based health centers and now as a Los Angeles County Supervisor, he has worked with many partners to build 12 new school-based health centers in the Second District. At these centers, students and their families are offered both physical and mental health services in one place. The centers offer prevention and wellness close to where people live, work and go to school. Considering that thousands of students have limited, inadequate or no regular access to preventative health care, the school-based health center model will impact the way healthcare is delivered.

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science Receives $1- million Donation

Ask a student attending college about the cost of higher education and they will likely attest to the mounting debt and financial burden that comes along with attending a university.

But for some students attending Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, the financial weight is about to get a lot lighter thanks to a $1 million donation from Joe Adams, Ray Charles’ former manager and his wife Emma.  The donation is equivalent to 100- $10,000 scholarships  - the largest one-time individual gift  in the school’s history.

Charles R. Drew President David Carlisle says he is grateful for the gift and recognizes the positive effect the scholarships will have on the students.

“The more scholarships we can give out,  the less their educational debt and the less dependent they are for borrowing money on their education,”  he said.  “Thousands of lives will be impacted by this contribution- including students, patients, and members of the community that we serve.”

Angela Minniefield, Vice President of Strategic Advancement at the university agreed.

“This is a tremendous investment in our students,” she said,  noting that approximately 78 percent of Charles Drew students qualify for financial aid. “These funds will help to retain our excellent students that experience financial obstacles and help them maintain their commitment to serving the underserved.”

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents the area where the university is located, said the gift will help scores of Charles Drew students contribute to the future Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Campus. The campus, which will house a new hospital and comprehensive health center, will bring health and wellness to a community that has gone on too long without a large health service provider.

“The scholarships will help countless students achieve their dreams of becoming doctors, nurses and experts in the medical community,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.  “That’s something to celebrate.”

Read the Los Angeles Times story about the $1- million donation here…

 

In Remembrance of a Fitness Advocate, Poet, Athlete and Mentor

A former basketball player and a physician, Toni Yancey was not one to sit passively behind a desk. In fact, it was a rare occasion to find her behind a desk. Instead, she was more likely to be found stretching, waving her arms, exhaling loudly and jumping up and down. For Yancey, getting a bit of exercise into her day, every day, was a mission.

When she began noticing health disparities among minorities, the lack of available workout space and the reduction of recess in schools, she decided to do something.

So she created “Instant Recess®”, a program that calls for a grassroots approach to “making America healthier 10 minutes at a time.” Her idea to incorporate brief bouts of physical activity into daily routine whether at school or work or worship, earned her numerous awards including the Pioneering Innovation Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To coax people off their chairs and couches, she would often remind them to recall those memories of childhood where every student in class anxiously looks up at the clock, waiting for that recess bell to ring. She called that memory the “wave of exhilaration, the sheer release, the transformation of fidgeting.”

“If you can recapture even a little of the joy of unbridled movement,” she told an audience during a TED speech in Manhattan Beach last year, “Maybe there is hope for the couch potatoes.”

But it was not always clear that she would become a doctor or a fitness advocate. Born and raised in Kansas City, KS, she was a renaissance woman who, at 6’2”, played as a Division 1 basketball player during her undergraduate years at Northwestern University and was a model before going to medical school.

Her mission was personal.

Her family had a long history of arthritis and Alzheimer’s. She saw the effects of a sedentary lifestyle in this country, where nearly one-third of Americans are obese. African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans have higher rates of obesity and illnesses like diabetes related to weight issues, than others in the population. Prevention is what drove her to her life’s work.

She spoke eloquently and passionately about how decreasing the waist line has a positive effect on appetite, on attitude and on productivity. She even made a cost/benefit analysis for the value of exercise on the bottom line.

“The spirit that she brought to ensure there is no disparity in health and making it easy to understand so that everyone could do it,” said Michael Browning, a health advocate who works in HIV prevention in Los Angeles County. “She walked the walk. She was an example.”

Yancey’s work with Instant Recess, her role as the board president of the Public Health Institute and her role as a commissioner on First 5 LA helping to advocate for physical fitness and good nutrition for children, landed her on the board of directors of the Partnership for a Healthy America, the nonprofit that helped guide Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign.

“We have lost a role model and effective leader in the area of fitness and health,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “She was a pioneer and she used her intelligence, charisma and charm to change the way we view exercise. A sound body is a sound mind and perhaps nobody knew that better than Toni. She will be missed dearly but her legacy lives on.”
Never a smoker, she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2011. And even as she knew her time would be limited, a poem she wrote in March of last year captured her spirit:

I want to say
A light shone among us
And her energy burned
Very, very bright
And warmed many souls
Then the flame was extinguished
And she moved on
But while she was here
She lived voraciously
Vehemently
Vivaciously
Voluminously…
With vision,
Verve and vitality
Always at the vanguard
And then she was needed elsewhere…