As Congress Ponders Reform, Health Centers Address Root Causes of Illness
Monday, July 24, 2017
PETALUMA, Calif. — As Congress struggles to make the health care system more cost-effective, local Community Health Centers are already doing their part, with a focus on prevention instead of treatment of illness.
Studies show that close to half of people's health status is directly related to behavior - diet, exercise, smoking and stress management - and only ten percent is tied to health care. Yet, according to Dr. Fasih Hameed with the Petaluma Health Center, 90 percent of health-care money is spent on treating people's symptoms rather than trying to address the causes and prevent them.
"You could never address it just through traditional healthcare, so we had to expand our ability to do so by innovating all these programs,” Hameed said.
The Petaluma Health Center handles about 150,000 medical visits a year, but it also refers patients to programs like "Petaluma Loves Active Youth," which offers medical advice, exercise classes and healthy cooking demonstrations. The health center runs a large community garden, where anyone can pick the produce, and hosts a weekly organic farmer's market that accepts food stamps and charges on a sliding scale.
An estimated 14 percent of Americans, or 48 million, are food insecure - meaning they lack access to nutritious, affordable food. In California, Hameed notes, many low-income families are squeezed by rising rents, leaving little money for groceries. And often, the least expensive, most convenient food options are the least healthy.
"Fattening foods and sugary foods and unhealthy foods are cheap and so, kids are actually malnourished but obese,” he said. "It’s the paradox of the food insecure."
A study in Petaluma a few years ago of a program that distributed free bags of produce showed that families who got them ate better and reduced their body mass index after just 12 weeks.
The National Association of Community Health Centers has launched a project with the Medtronic Foundation to document progress on this issue. That report will be released later this year.
get more stories like this via email
Many of California's 13.5 million children and teens have not bounced back after the pandemic, especially children of color, according to the just-…
Americans continue to report low trust in mainstream media, with many younger than 30 saying they trust information from social media nearly as much …
A Minnesota House committee heard testimony Thursday about the governor's proposed spending plan for education. As these talks unfold, public polling …
In her fifth State of the State address this week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer emphasized policies designed to put more money in Michiganders' pockets…
By nearly every measure, voter fraud in U.S. elections is rare, but that isn't stopping the Texas Legislature from considering dozens of bills this …
A Republican-sponsored bill in the Arkansas Legislature would make it illegal to circulate petitions at or near polling places during elections…
New Mexico residents have two weeks to submit written comments to the Environmental Protection Agency about its proposal to implement stronger standar…
As National News Literacy Week comes to an end, one Nevada journalism professor says media professionals need to make building trust with their …