Taking Care of Our Seniors

“You are convened to help us do lead thinking,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said before a dozen health care leaders gathered at the Exposition Park Constituent Service Center to brainstorm ways to improve medical care for older patients.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaks before a dozen health care leaders gathered at the Exposition Park Constituent Service Center

With 15% of the population of the United States over 65 years of age, the data projects that by 2030, that will rise to 20%.

“Because seniors represent a growing segment of our population, we need to be concerned about what is going on with them,” the Supervisor said.

Experts claim that older adults are more vulnerable to the side effects of medications. It is estimated that close to half of older adults develop a confusional state called “delirium” when admitted to the hospital, and the rate may be as high as 75%, for those in the intensive care unit. Many patients who become overmedicated and delirious in the hospital are unable to return immediately to their homes, and may end up in nursing facilities, where they might become even more confused and unable to fully recover.

Loretta Jones, a community member and Founder of Healthy African American Families.

The brainstorming focused on how to reduce overmedication of the elderly in Los Angeles County hospitals and how to prevent seniors from having to enter the hospital altogether.

Many seniors in the county have in-home care, but some are resistant to having their medication monitored by in-home care workers.

“To me, it’s an imposition to have someone come to my house and tell me what to do,” said Loretta Jones, a community member and Founder of Healthy African American Families.

Dr. Monika Soni, the primary care chief at Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center.

Other medical facilities, such as the Martin Luther King Outpatient Center, are working hard to keep seniors out of the hospital by providing comprehensive outpatient care.

“We are primarily an outpatient center and our goal is to keep people out of the hospital,” said Dr. Monika Soni, the primary care chief at Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center. “What we’re really focusing on is building up the primary care medical home.”

Second District Strategizes How to Help Homeless

image4Just prior to the deadline to provide feedback for Los Angeles County’s Homeless Initiative, nearly 100 community members and homeless experts attended a meeting at Exposition Park to learn more and offer feedback on strategies to prevent homelessness in the Second District of Los Angeles County.

“Our community can be no stronger than its most vulnerable residents,” said Los Angeles County Second District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

More than 44,000 people are homeless in Los Angeles County. The second district has the highest proportion with about one out of every three homeless persons living in the Second Supervisorial District—over 14,000 men, women and children.

“We cannot do this alone. It will take a collective effort of government agencies, elected officials, faith leaders, academic leaders, community based organizations and concerned individuals,” the Supervisor said.

image1Los Angeles County has provided more than 40 draft strategies to combat growing homelessness across the region. The recommendations represent the most comprehensive effort ever undertaken by the county to attack the root causes of homelessness and lift thousands of people off the street.

“This is a historic opportunity homelessness throughout LA County,” said Phil Ansell, Director of the Homeless Initiative for Los Angeles County.

The Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative was launched on August 17, 2015 to generate coordinated strategies to reduce homelessness through an intensive, inclusive planning process. In February 2016, the process will culminate in consideration by the Board of Supervisors.

Visionary Partnership Delivers Free Eyeglasses in Inglewood

(Left to Right) Vision To Learn Founder Austin Beutner, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Inglewood student with new free eyeglasses, and Clipper Chris Paul on January 19, 2017.

Dozens of students lined up on a basketball court at Inglewood High School and were greeted by NBA Clippers stars Chris Paul and Paul Pierce, a former player at Inglewood High. But the students were not learning new basketball insights. They were in line to receive a free assist to improve their sight.

“Many students identified as ‘problem learners’ do have a problem, but the problem is with their vision, not with their ability or willingness to learn,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation and Vision to Learn announced a new partnership to provide free eyeglasses to every student in need in the Inglewood School District. According to one study by the UCLA Schools of Medicine and Public Health, more than 20% of elementary school students in low-income communities have a vision problem and 96% of those students needing glasses do not have them.

Founded by Austin Beutner, Vision To Learn is a non-profit that provides free eye exams and eyeglasses to students in low-income communities. The Los Angeles Clippers Foundation’s sponsorship of the nearly 12,000 students in the Inglewood School District is the first of its kind.

“Eyeglasses are one of those resources that can make the difference between success and failure in the classroom,” the Supervisor said.


LA County Hosts First-Ever Hack Day

Los Angeles County hosted its first hack day aimed at engaging, educating, and empowering boys and girls of color to break into the field of Information Technology. South LA Hack Day, was held Saturday, October 24 at the Lennox Library and Constituent Services Center, and coincided with Open Data Week.

“South LA Hack Day encourages innovation by introducing young coders to develop software applications,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “This kind of outreach will help keep Los Angeles County on the cutting edge of technology.”

HackDayTechnology giants Microsoft, IDEO, CGI and NeoGov led a series of workshops for about 100 youth ages 16-25 about such topics as turning an idea into a product, developing software applications, and launching a career in Information Technology.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who played a crucial role in making vast troves of County data and records public through the creation of the user-friendly website, hosted the event. He will be joined by representatives from the County’s Department of Human Resources, Public Library, and Office of the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, as well as community partners Girl Code LA, Urban Teens Exploring Technology, and Digital LA.

Microsoft led a workshop about mining open data to create software applications, and ZeneHome founder Chris Shafer was among the speakers. A recent graduate of the University of Southern California, Shafer used property data provided by the County to create a real estate web application that helps to educate home owners, brings transparency to the home ownership experience, and optimizes financing options.

“We are heavily utilizing the information provided via the open data initiative to fulfill our mission,” Shafer said. “We are very thankful for this public data.”

Also leading a workshop was IDEO, a design firm whose innovations include Apple’s first mouse and whose next project is updating the County’s voting system. At South LA Hack Day, IDEO asked the junior computer scientists for feedback on how to make voting more accessible to the younger generation. Their input will be integrated into the new voting system.

In a separate workshop, the County Department of Human Resources, NeoGov and CGI  discussed opportunities for launching a young coder’s career in the field of Information Technology. NeoGov is an on-demand human resources company designing software for the public sector. CGI is among the leading independent Information Technology and business services firms in the world.

South LA Hack Day also coincided with Girls Empowerment Month throughout the County, and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas conducted significant outreach to bridge the digital divide. Women represent only 6% of corporate Chief Information Officers but at the event, girls and young women almost half of those registered to participate.

Los Angeles native Dez White is one of the youngest female African-American tech entrepreneurs to invent and launch a suite of apps with her company, Invisible Text. She also founded Girl Code LA, a community partner for Saturday’s event, as way to mentor girl coders.

“I think young women don’t even realize computer sciences are an option,” White said. “I was intimidated at first, and now I’m in love with technology.” White shared her success story with young coders on Saturday.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has long been a leader in advancing the county’s Information Technology systems and his accomplishments include:

“The future of our county depends on the digital literacy of its residents,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Bridging the digital divide with diversity will allow Los Angeles County to play a pivotal role as a tech leader in the years ahead.”

New Rosa Parks Metro Station on its Way to Willowbrook


A $39 million state grant to the Willowbrook / Rosa Parks Metro station won praise on August 29th from state and local officials, public health professionals, Metro workers, community and faith leaders and environmental groups.

“I commend the State for investing in projects that meet a triple bottom line,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who also serves as chair of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board of directors. “The improvements will green our environment, improve access to our public transit system, and help revitalize the surrounding community.”

The funding comes from the California Cap and Trade program, which provides funding to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions through various initiatives including expanding public transportation ridership. In addition to improvements at the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station, the grant will also be used for traffic signal enhancements along the entire Blue Line. The project is expected to yield a 865,000 ton reduction in carbon emissions, an equivalent of Angelinos driving 2 billion less miles.

“Metro means business when it comes to greening the environment and reducing greenhouse gases,” the Supervisor said.

Joining the Supervisor in lauding the new funding were Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León, Senator Isadore Hall, III, California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly, California Air Resources Board Vice Chair Sandra Berg and Coalition for Clean Air CEO and South Coast Air Quality Management District Board member Joe Lyou.

The Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station renovation project is part of a nearly $1 billion planned investment that seeks to improve the quality of life for the Willowbrook community by promoting health and wellness, economic development and job creation. More than $650 million has been invested in the MLK Medical Center campus and a new library and senior housing has also been approved.

Part of the Metro Blue Line, the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station is the fourth busiest station in the entire Metro system. Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station improvements will provide better commuter access with a new plaza and parking facility, and will enhance passenger safety with new lighting and a Sheriff’s substation. The Metro Blue Line is one of the nation’s busiest light rail lines, with nearly 80,000 daily boardings.