What is the Multicultural Health Foundation?
It’s a non-profit organization reimaging the healthcare system as one that unites social and clinical services that produce cost savings. A portion of these savings are then reinvested in a variety of ways to help prevent chronic diseases in vulnerable communities.
What does the foundation do?
The foundation has three programs: The Patient Health Improvement Initiative, Health Equity Action Think Tank (HEATT) and the Multicultural Wellness Center.
- The Patient Health Improvement Initiative brings clinical and social services together to help chronically ill patients move from medical crisis to long-term wellness.
- HEATT will lead research to alleviate health disparities in collaboration with a variety of partners, to identify best practices, replicate effective models and to advocate for changes in policy that advance health equity.
- The Multicultural Wellness Center is being designed to teach practical ways residents can manage and prevent chronic diseases.
Why does the foundation focus on low-income, chronically ill patients?
Chronically ill patients have a big impact on the healthcare system. These patients have complicated medical needs that are sometimes compounded by mental-health, substance-abuse and social problems. They visit Emergency Rooms and hospitals more in one month than most people do in a lifetime. Overall, just 1 percent of these patients account for nearly one-fourth of all health expenditures in the United States. That’s a main reason it makes sense to help these patients to progress from medical crisis to long-term stability.
Who is behind the foundation?
The foundation was started by two visionary physicians, Rodney G. Hood and Richard O. Butcher, who have been practicing medicine for decades in Southeastern San Diego. They have witnessed firsthand the effects health disparities have on their patients and families and have committed their lives’ work to alleviating them.
In 2012, the Multicultural Medical Group created the foundation as its corporate social responsibility initiative to leverage the benefits of collaborating with physicians, healthcare providers and community- and faith-based leaders to encourage wellness in the multicultural community and advance health equity.
How does the foundation define wellness?
Our wellness approach teaches residents culturally appropriate ways to manage and prevent chronic diseases, which also benefits their families and communities.
How does the foundation define “multicultural”?
“Multicultural” means all races, ethnicities and cultures, including non-Hispanic whites.
How is multicultural health care different from other healthcare services?
Multicultural health care takes into account patients’ ethnic, racial, social and religious backgrounds as well as their home environment. For patients to advance to long-term wellness, all aspects of their care, including their cultural beliefs and community, must be a part of the care plan.
What is health equity?
Health equity means that individuals have equal opportunities to be healthy. The ability to be healthy is often associated with factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual identity, disability and social and community contexts. When these factors limit a person's ability to be healthy, it can lead to health inequity.
What are ethnic and racial health disparities?
A disparity generally means “a great difference” between two populations. In health, there is robust evidence that ethnic and racial minorities tend to have less access to quality care than non-Hispanic whites and the care they do receive is of lesser quality. Minorities suffer and die from chronic diseases in greater numbers than whites, the research shows. It’s worth noting that these disparities have persisted over many generations in multicultural communities even while big strides in medical care have extended the life expectancy of the general population.
Why is it important to end health disparities?
The effects of unequal care are devastating to patients, their families and their communities. These communities simply cannot improve their overall quality of life while burdened by disease. This situation has negative social and economic consequences for the entire region.
People who become chronically ill use medical resources at a much greater rate than the general patient population, which drives up costs in the entire healthcare system for everyone.
And in the broadest sense, unequal treatment of people based on their ethnicity or race goes against a bedrock principle of our democracy, which calls for equality for all people.
Other organizations are working to end health disparities. What makes the Multicultural Health Foundation different?
Many organizations have programs that give vulnerable patients access to quality health care, alleviating disparities. Many of these programs are funded by grants. When the grants end, their work tends to disappear.
The foundation has developed a business model that sustains the work of providing quality health care to vulnerable communities. This innovative model moves indigent, multicultural patients from medical crisis to long-term wellness. It is yielding significant cost savings, a portion of which are re-invested to sustain and expand the work to prevent chronic disease and promote healthy living in the vulnerable communities.
How can I support the foundation?
The foundation needs a wide variety of partners to help chronically ill, multicultural patients achieve long-term wellness. Here are some ways you can help transform the quality of life for these patients and their communities.