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Latest News - Inland Empire Health Plan Recognized for Healthcare Innovation
ices (DHCS) for their innovative Medi-Cal Primary Care Physician Auto-Assignment Redesign. On an annual basis, DHCS’s Innovation Award recognizes Medi-Cal Managed Care Health Plans (MCPs) that have excelled in improving the quality of health care for the millions of beneficiaries receiving Medi-Cal services through managed care. This marks the fifth time IEHP has been honored by DHCS—more times than any other health plan in California. Prior recognitions for its forward-thinking efforts include utilizing location intelligence to reach Members (2020), creating the IEHP Housing Initiative (2018), developing Behavioral Health Integration Complex Care Initiative (2017), and organizing the Transitional Care Project (2015). “We are honored to be recognized for our efforts and unwavering commitment to serving our Members, Providers and communities,” said Jarrod McNaughton, IEHP Chief Executive Officer. “These efforts support the work we are doing as we recommit to our Mission to heal and inspire the human spirit.” This year’s recognition shines light on IEHP’s PCP auto-assignment process, which focuses on directing health plan Members to Providers with high quality scores, ensuring Members receive optimal care and incentivizing Providers’ great work. To do so, IEHP created an assignment algorithm incorporating over a dozen weighted provider attributes related to their quality scores. “Innovation allows us to see beyond our present circumstances and barriers and expand our thinking to what is possible for our Members and Providers,” added McNaughton. “In every connection, we have the ability to inspire and empower them to achieve their fullest potential.”
Latest News - Sometimes, not all is merry and bright: tips for managing holiday stress
ricans, this can be an incredibly stressful time. Especially for people already struggling, the holiday season can heighten feelings of grief, loneliness and other emotional pain. Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) Clinical Director of Community Behavioral Health Amrita Rai says holidays can elevate emotional highs and lows. “This time of year can add additional stress in our lives, and stress can possibly trigger conditions such as depression and anxiety,” said Rai. “Not everyone experiences the holidays the same; it’s OK to experience your feelings.” Rai offers the following tips for managing potential stress during the holidays: Breathe. Set realistic expectations. Let yourself say no to new obligations. Set boundaries with others. Reach out for help. In addition, Rai recommends checking in often with those close to you, ensuring they are doing OK, especially when you notice a change in their mood or behavior. “It can be as simple as a text, a phone call or handwritten note,” added Rai. “Reach out and remind someone you love them, and you are there for them.” If you or someone you love is feeling overwhelmed, Riverside and San Bernardino counties encourage use of the local crisis numbers below for help: RIVERSIDE: 1-800-273-TALK (951) 686-HELP (4357) 1-877-727-4747 and Crisis text line: 741-741. SAN BERNARDINO: 24-Hour Crisis Line: (760) 365-6558 East Valley: (909) 421-9233 West Valley: (909) 458-9628 High Desert: (760) 956-2345 Morongo Basin: (760) 365-6558 San Bernardino: 1-877-727-4747 988 also offers 24/7 access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing mental health-related distress no matter where you live in the United States. For non-emergency support, IEHP Members can also call IEHP Member Services at 1-800-440-IEHP (4347), Monday–Friday, 7 a.m.–7 p.m., and Saturday–Sunday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. TTY users should call 1-800-718-4347 and ask to speak with the Behavioral Health department.
Latest News - IEHP Quality Leaders Share the Power Behind Data
he right way makes all the difference in providing quality health care services. Illustrating the significance of data management with industry peers and professionals, IEHP is sharing their experience mitigating bias in data algorithms and insight on how data can be used to enhance care quality at the Local Health Plans of California (LHPC) Moving the Needle: Advancing Health Equity Seminar in Sacramento Oct. 27 and the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C. Oct. 31. Both events target strategic collaboration and sharing of ideas to accelerate the delivery of quality care and reduce gaps in health care among disadvantaged and vulnerable populations. In their LHPC presentation, IEHP Chief Quality Officer Dr. Edward Juhn and Vice President of Quality Genia Fick will explain how data can be used to identify health disparities, define health equity issues and lay the groundwork for effective interventions to improve health outcomes. “We are committed to leveraging new data to help inform health equity,” said Fick. “This will ensure we are funding and prioritizing the appropriate resources for those who need it most.” Dr. Juhn will also be joining ideas42 Managing Director Ted Robertson at NCQA’s Health Innovation Summit to present their collaborative work in addressing algorithmic bias to advance quality and equity outcomes. Their presentation will focus on the importance of addressing disparities unintentionally produced by algorithms and how health care organizations can mitigate it in practice. “It is critical to be better stewards of our data to impactfully serve our community,” said Juhn. “Our goal and focus of leveraging data should be to improve health outcomes.” To learn more about IEHP, visit iehp.org.
Latest News - IEHP Pilot Program Published in Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy
anagement (CMM) Pilot Program, utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to manage medication use among Members was recently published in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy. Using an advanced AI platform, health plan data, and clinical pharmacists, trained in disease management and CMM, were able to engage with Members via telephone and enhance care coordination, reducing serious drug interactions by 15.2%, emergency room visits by 15%, hospital admissions by 9%, and more. Noting the pilot program’s ability to significantly improve Member health outcomes and reduce utilization, the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy estimates that California’s Medicaid (Medi-Cal) program could save more than $1B annually by applying the program’s measures to a similar group of patients. “This study affirms that Medication Therapy Management for Medicaid patients is essential for optimizing patient care,” said Dr. Michael Blatt, IEHP Clinical Director of Pharmacy and Product Strategy. Pilot program participants included 2,150 IEHP Members between 40 to 60 years old with an average of 25 medications prescribed to manage chronic conditions. “This comprehensive medication management program, created by pharmacists and aided by novel decision technology, enables us to engage a team of support around individual Members by connecting the right Members to the right resources at the right time,” said Dr. Edward Jai, IEHP Senior Director of Pharmaceutical Services. To share additional learnings from this effort and to support other health plans looking to leverage AI in a CMM program, Dr. Jai will be presenting program results and lessons at the 2021 Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy Nexus Conference on October 18. His presentation will also include details from IEHP’s Medication Reconciliation Program, which also decreased readmissions and hospitalizations. For more information about this study, visit jmcp.org.
Latest News - IEHP hosts job fairs in Inland Empire
Department of Child Support Services, Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) Community Resource Centers will host Roadshow Recruitment job fairs. Events will be held at all three IEHP Community Resource Centers at the following dates and times: Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. at IEHP’s Riverside center, 3590 Tyler St., Suite 101, Riverside, Calif., 92503 Wednesday, Nov. 9, from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. at IEHP’s Victorville center, 12353 Mariposa Road, Suites C-2 & C-3, Victorville, Calif., 92395 Thursday, Nov. 10, from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. at IEHP’s San Bernardino center, 805 W. Second St., Suite C, San Bernardino, Calif., 92410 Each event will have about eight employers on site, all accepting applications and conducting interviews for various roles. Industry positions include jobs in retail, education, transportation, manufacturing, logistics, hospitality, law enforcement, U.S. armed forces, administrative and more. Registration is required by filling out this form. “With so many in need and right before the holidays, this job fair is greatly needed,” said IEHP Community Resource Center Manager Maria Gallegos. “We’re thrilled to connect our members and neighbors to trusted employers, who are actively looking to hire within our communities.” Attendees are encouraged to dress professionally and to bring several copies of their resumes. Workshops for resume building will also be offered by Goodwill of Southern California. “Our centers are an invaluable resource for our region because of our community partners and their willingness to consistently collaborate with us to support our most vulnerable residents,” said IEHP Community Resource Center Manager Delia Orosco. “We are eager to help facilitate these connections and foster growth in our neighborhoods because of events like these.”
Latest News - IEHP encourages residents to follow the wonderful road to wellness
doesn’t have to be a scary adventure. Through a new print and digital media campaign, Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) encourages residents to take their best shot at health and wellness this season by getting their annual flu vaccine. The campaign will reach Inland Empire residents through commercials on local television stations, radio spots, community outreach and social media posts, directing them to IEHP’s website for vaccine information and details. “No one wants to be slowed down in 2023,” said IEHP Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Takashi Wada. “This campaign is to serve as a reminder that staying healthy and well can be as easy as stopping by a vaccine clinic or checking in with your primary care physician.” The campaign began in winter 2022 and will run through spring 2023. “The flu isn’t isolated to a particular time and the flu vaccine can protect you throughout the year. Like the COVID-19 vaccine, it can also significantly reduce symptoms in case you do contract it.” To receive a free flu vaccine, no visit to a wizard or good witch is required! Residents in Riverside County can visit ruhealth.org/flu. Residents in San Bernardino County can visit dhp.sbcounty.gov to find free local clinics. Flu vaccines are always free for IEHP members. To learn more, visit iehp.org.
Latest News - From heart failure to heartfelt success: IEHP Program Sustains Life for I.E. Woman
s, Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) member Lavinia experienced panic and anxiety attacks that compounded her heart issues and led to more hospital visits. IEHP team members identified Lavinia’s specialized needs and connected her to a pilot program with focused support coordination for patients with congestive heart failure. By participating in the program, Lavinia received free, medically tailored meals; regular check-ins from IEHP case management representatives; and tools like a glucometer, blood pressure cuff and weight scale to encourage her health. The program also connected Lavinia to IEHP’s Health Navigator team, who conducted in-home visits. “Being able to be that person that they can socialize with, laugh with – even for just, maybe 30 minutes that we were there, it made a whole difference in their life, knowing that they had that support,” said IEHP Health Navigator Lucia Reyes. IEHP Care Manager Jonathan Lee called Lavinia for weekly check-ins, receiving inspiring progress reports about following her diet of no salt/no sodium and partnering with her Providers on her road back to health. “IEHP was calling … ‘Lavinia, what can we do to help you?’ … And that’s what helped me because I realized there were people that cared,” said Lavinia. Today, more than 18 months after being discharged from the ER, Lavinia feels better and stronger and has learned how to control her weight, losing 44 pounds so far, crediting the tasty and healthy meals provided to her. “IEHP helped me be a better person – because if it wasn’t being part of that program, I don’t think I would be here,” Lavinia said. “They saved my life – thank you. You guys did more than what you know.” IEHP members who would like to learn more about medically tailored meals and community support services can reach out to their care managers to see if they qualify. For more details and information on Lavinia’s story, follow IEHP on LinkedIn.
Latest News - Collaborative Group Releases Inland Empire Community Health Assessment
ural areas are disproportionately impacted by negative health outcomes, according to a newly released Community Health Assessment focusing on the Inland Empire region. The 2022 Inland Empire Community Health Assessment Stakeholder Committee, comprised of over 40 representatives across 25 community organizations, united over the past year to collect and analyze the region’s health and wellness data. The collaborative group identified four at-risk population groups in need of additional support, as well as six priority areas of focus: Basic Needs for Health and Safety, Humane Housing, Meaningful Work and Wealth, Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes, Maternal and Infant Health and Mental and Behavioral Health. The committee shared the findings in a regional Community Health Assessment report. The report is uniquely positioned for its cross-sector involvement and multiple sources of data collection, including focus groups. “We all know that health happens across zip codes,” said Jarrod McNaughton, chief executive officer at Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP), which sponsored the Inland Empire Community Health Assessment. “Sickness and disease don't care where you live, but it is clear that certain geographic communities and subpopulations experience significant disparities when it comes to influences on health and health outcomes. This community health assessment is the first step in learning how we as health care providers, community partners and advocates can work better together to address the true health needs of our connected communities.” In addition to health and hospital data, the Community Health Assessment also included interviews with 10 community leaders and focus groups in nine communities. “Every Inland Empire community member deserves the opportunity to live their best life, and many local organizations are already working to make that possible” added Michelle Decker, president of the Inland Empire Community Foundation, one of the involved organizations. “We are now magnifying that work by uniting our efforts toward key priorities and populations.” To view the Inland Empire Community Health Assessment, visit VibrantInlandEmpire.org. To raise awareness of community work in the region, organizations are invited to share information about their projects in the Inland Empire through a form on the website. Projects will then be shared with others through the website.
Latest News - IEHP Foundation Launches to Serve Most Vulnerable Communities
is a nonprofit organization that was established to ensure access to quality and innovative health care by supporting objectives that focus on community health and clinical excellence, with an emphasis on housing insecurity, mental health, substance abuse, and food insecurity. IEHP Foundation will partner with IEHP to support its mission, vision and values through their own creative and innovative efforts. This work will serve the community in its entirety, beyond traditional health care services and reach the region’s most vulnerable populations, regardless of Medi-Cal membership. Efforts will include supporting pilot programs, identifying innovative solutions that improve health outcomes, acting as a convener, collaborator and partner with community and faith-based communities, and much more. “IEHP Foundation will be a grant maker and not a grant seeking organization so we can support our community-based groups and not compete with them for limited funds,” said IEHP Foundation President Angelica Baltazar. “Our work will focus on connecting our community with access to a better, more joyful life through programs and initiatives aimed at resolving the root causes of illness, health equity and core needs, including things like food, shelter and safety.” But these goals cannot be accomplished alone. IEHP Foundation will collaborate with other organizations and community groups whose work aligns with the health plan’s mission, vision and values, according to Baltazar. “By helping to fill the void for the most vulnerable and keeping dollars in the Inland Empire, we feel we can make the most significant positive impact,” she said. “Our creative and innovative efforts will serve as an extension of IEHP’s support to the people of the Inland Empire.” IEHP is one of the top 10 largest Medicaid health plans and the largest not-for-profit Medicare-Medicaid plan in the country. In its 26th year, IEHP supports more than 1.5 million residents in Riverside and San Bernardino counties who are enrolled in Medicaid or Cal MediConnect Plans. IEHP Foundation’s work will serve the community in its entirety, beyond traditional health care services and reach the region’s most vulnerable populations, regardless of Medi-Cal membership. These efforts could include supporting pilot programs, investing in innovative technology that improves health outcomes and acting as a convener, collaborator and partner with community groups and faith-based organizations, Baltazar added. The Journey Ahead To start this journey and set a successful path, IEHP Foundation leaders wanted to learn from others, so they traveled to Houston, New Orleans and Atlanta, observing various non-profits, bringing back best practices and innovative ways to improve care and foster community collaboration. Additionally, the Foundation’s representatives have met with local community stakeholders and organizations to discuss increasing access to vibrant health for all residents across the Inland Empire. IEHP Foundation held its first board meeting in late July, where its directors set to define the group’s vision and strategy. “I am so pleased not only with the caliber of our IEHP Foundation Board, but the sincere and heartfelt desire to make a difference for our communities. They are committed to long term sustainable change for overall community health improvement,” said Baltazar. Board Members include: Dr. Conrado Bárzaga, Desert Healthcare District & Foundation Chief Executive Officer; Dr. Geoffrey Leung, County of Riverside Public Health Officer; Josh Candelaria, Viewpoint Advocacy Principal; Karen Scott, First 5 San Bernardino Executive Director; Regina Weatherspoon-Bell, DVL Project/A Better Way/Victor Valley Domestic, Inc. Founder; Stephen Bennett, Caravanserai Project Board Chair and Co-Founder; Dr. Edward Juhn IEHP Chief Quality Officer; and Jarrod McNaughton, IEHP Chief Executive Officer. “IEHP Foundation is a direct step toward vibrant health, quality of care and will move in support of impactful solutions addressing some of our region’s most critical needs,” said IEHP Foundation Board Member and IEHP Chief Quality Officer Dr. Edward Juhn. “I look forward to serving in this capacity and furthering IEHP’s mission, vision and values in the Inland Empire.”
Latest News - IEHP team helps break mental health stigma, one new mom at a time
he challenges it brings – can be overwhelming. After the birth of her daughter, Gerti struggled with her mental health and recognized she needed help – so she turned to IEHP. Through her connection to Katia, a behavioral health specialist on IEHP’s maternal mental health team, Gerti learned she was experiencing postpartum depression and was connected to various resources, including supportive therapy. Although common (the CDC cites 1 in 8 women who recently gave birth suffer from it), postpartum depression is more severe and long-lasting than the “baby blues,” which can include short-lived bouts of mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. “I was just really looking for help, because it gets overwhelming – especially becoming a new mom,” explained Gerti. “Sometimes the depression just catches you. I just want to get through this, so I can push through for my baby, for my sanity, for my happiness.” As Katia explains, no mother with these challenges should ever feel ashamed. Feeling anxious, overwhelmed and depressed are all considered typical emotions during pregnancy and after birth. “It’s normal [for new moms] to feel the way they do; there is nothing wrong with feeling that way,” said Katia, who also personally experienced postpartum depression. “They should be proud of themselves for reaching out for help – and that is where we come in.” IEHP’s maternal mental health team is a small, but mighty unit within the behavioral health department that connects Members with mental health services such as therapy and psychiatry. The maternal mental health team regularly checks in with Members to ask how they are feeling, what they need and to help them make those sometimes hard, but life-altering first steps of scheduling and attending therapy appointments. The team supports Members like Gerti through every step of their recovery and journey through motherhood – even if it’s to simply ask how they are doing. “If I am able to take care of myself better, I will be able to take care of my baby much more,” explained Gerti. “I know that every time I am having trouble, help is just one phone call away.” To learn more about Gerti’s story, visit: https://youtu.be/8IRKPmIk2CM If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression or mental health, IEHP is here for you. IEHP Members can call Member Services to connect with our behavioral health team. For a mental health emergency, please call the Mental Health and Suicide Crisis Hotline at 988.
Latest News - IEHP Named One of the 2022 Best Workplaces in Health Care™, Ranking #15
rofit Medicare-Medicaid plan in the nation, announced its designation as a 2022 Best Workplaces in Health Care™. The Great Place to Work® and Fortune magazine designation reaffirms what the company’s annual survey revealed: 92% of the employee respondents believe IEHP is a great place to work, a statistic 35% higher than the average U.S. company. “Our strong team culture fuels our commitment to heal and inspire the human spirit,” says IEHP Chief Organizational Development Officer Janet Nix. “Working together, we’ve cultivated a strong, collaborative working environment where our team members take pride in doing the right thing for all we serve, including each other.” The Best Workplaces in Health Care award is based on analysis of survey responses from over 161,000 current employees from Great Place to Work® certified companies. Of IEHP’s 2,817 employees, 87% completed the survey that covered a variety of workplace quality experiences, including pride in the organization’s community impact, belief that their work makes a difference and feeling their work has special meaning. Highlights from the survey of IEHP’s employees include: 96% feel good about ways the organization contributes to its community 95% report having special and unique company benefits 94% are proud to tell others their place of employment Great Place to Work is the only company culture award in America to select winners based on employees’ experiences, no matter who they are or what they do. The survey also provides team members the opportunity to give personal feedback regarding what they feel the company can do to improve even further. “The feedback delivered in these surveys is critical to moving IEHP forward and continuing to uphold our mission to heal and inspire the human spirit,” said IEHP Chief Executive Officer Jarrod McNaughton. “Our team members inspire the work we do every day and their innovative feedback has driven many of the initiatives we’ve implemented.” The Best Workplaces in Health Care list is highly competitive. Great Place to Work, the global authority on workplace culture, selected the list using rigorous analytics and confidential employee feedback. Companies were only considered if they are a Great Place to Work-Certified™ organization. “It is our honor to spotlight the Best Workplaces in Health Care,” says Michael C. Bush, chief executive officer of Great Place to Work. “Health care heroes have been on the front lines saving lives, and these organizations dug deep to tailor their support to the rapidly changing demands from the pandemic. We applaud their commitment to inclusive, high-trust cultures.” When asked if there was anything unusual or unique about IEHP that makes it a great place to work, team members responded with personal insights, highlighting the organization’s positive impact. “IEHP is unique in that they ‘walk their talk.’ In the 20 years of experience as a nurse, I have never been employed by an organization such as IEHP,” shared an IEHP team member in the anonymous survey. “They truly care for our community just as much as they care for their employees. It is a blessing to be part of such an amazing organization that exudes its mission, vision and values. I look forward to completing my mission as a nurse at IEHP.” To learn more about IEHP and career opportunities, visit iehp.org.
Latest News - IEHP Promotes Balance with Youth Activities
l, family and friends, Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) offers a regular schedule of fun – and free – classes at its community resource centers. “Extracurricular activities decrease the potential for risky behaviors in children and young adults and provide an increased sense of connectedness and belonging,” said IEHP Community Behavioral Health Clinical Director Amrita Rai. “Any kind of opportunity to engage in activities supporting healthy emotional development can increase self-esteem and the ability to interact with peers, which offers benefits well into adulthood.” IEHP’s community resource centers can help nurture and improve mental health for young Inland Empire residents. The centers offer classes and activities including Zumba, creative arts, cooking and gardening across its three locations in Riverside, San Bernardino and Victorville. Sessions are held Monday through Saturday and can be found on iehp.org. The U.S Surgeon General’s 2021 Advisory further highlights COVID-19’s impact to the ongoing youth mental health crisis, citing the urgent need to address these challenges head-on through coordinated action by community and federal organizations and by recognizing mental health as an essential part of overall health. This concept is not new to IEHP, which is currently partnering with several community organizations and Local Education Agencies to expand behavioral health services in and near schools (Student Behavioral Health Incentive Program). The health plan is also exploring opportunities to add even more free classes and activities for teens and young adults to their centers through a partnership with Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy. “We’re looking forward to adding more fun to our center schedules in the weeks and months to come,” said IEHP Victorville Community Resource Center Manager Delia Orosco. “Our centers serve as a safe space for all who enter, regardless of age, to truly express themselves and we take that very seriously.” To learn more about IEHP Community Resource Centers and class schedules, visit iehp.org.
Latest News - IEHP Extends Mental Health Awareness and Support
oughout the year and is doing something about it. “A behavioral health crisis can occur in someone’s life at any given moment,” said IEHP Clinical Director of Community Behavioral Health Amrita Rai. “Each person carries and responds to a crisis in a very personal way, which is why it is critical to meet the needs of our community and our members, ensuring they have the right resources at the right time.” Extending the conversation beyond September’s National Suicide Prevention observance, IEHP will continue to proactively encourage mental and behavioral wellness conversations throughout the year through the plan’s website and LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok accounts. Sharing existing resources with the community, information will include supporting awareness of the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, post-partum maternal health resources, student behavioral health programs, grief and depression management and wellness programming through the health plan’s community resource centers. Spreading awareness further with industry peers and decision-makers from across the health care community, Rai will also join a panel at The Future of Mental Healthcare West 2022 Conference in November to share insights about engaging youth in their mental health. “Your mental health and wellness are just as important as your physical health, and there is absolutely no shame in asking for help,” said Rai. “We want to encourage our members and communities to take that courageous step and reach out.” Help is available for anyone at any time by dialing 9-8-8. IEHP members can also confidentially call Member Services at (800) 440-4347. For more information, visit iehp.org.
Latest News - IEHP Announces Angelica Baltazar as New Foundation President
it Medicare-Medicaid plan in the country, today announced that Angelica Baltazar, MSW, has been named as president of the newly created IEHP Foundation. The Foundation is the philanthropic arm of IEHP and is uniquely positioned to increase philanthropy and generosity in the region, helping to fill the void for those most vulnerable and keeping dollars in the community. The Foundation’s work is centered around achieving what IEHP calls Vibrant Health for the Inland Empire. Vibrant Health means that IEHP’s Members and the residents of the Inland Empire will have access to a better, more joyful life through programs that address the root causes of illness, health equity, and the core needs of the community. Baltazar has more than 20 years of experience in the public health and human services sectors. She joins IEHP from San Antonio Regional Hospital where she most recently served as the Executive Lead for Health Equity and the Executive Director of the Lewis-San Antonio Healthy Communities Institute. Baltazar holds a bachelor’s in social work from Cal Poly Pomona and master’s in policy planning and administration from Loma Linda University. She is a community advisory member for Inland SoCal United Way, and a board member of Partners for Better Health and Promise Scholars. “Finding the right person to lead the IEHP Foundation was a critical first step in its development,” said IEHP Chief Executive Officer Jarrod McNaughton. “Angelica’s expertise in this field will support our efforts to improve the health of the IE for decades into the future.”
Latest News - Local Student Ambassadors Target Low Campus Vaccination Rates
ease COVID-19 vaccine awareness, education, and utilization rates among students through student-led vaccine education. “I am participating in this COVID-19 Student Ambassador Program to educate and inform my community about COVID-19 vaccinations,” said Jasmine Mejia, CHC Student Ambassador. “Many lives have been lost and my community needs to know the truth about the importance of being vaccinated. If I can get the facts out about the COVID 19 vaccine, then I will play a small part in saving lives in my community.” Trained by IEHP’s Community Health Teams and the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, the eight student ambassadors – four at each campus – aim to increase on-campus vaccine rates by distributing vaccine information at booths located in the main areas of each campus, peer presentations, pop-up clinic promotions, and helping schedule vaccine appointments. “With vaccine mandates on campus, we want to make sure our local college students have all they need to continue their education safely,” said Marci Coffey, IEHP Community Partnerships Director. “We’re excited to work with students in this capacity and empower them to effectively inform and engage with their peers.” IEHP will provide students with vaccine education resources, health plan materials, and promotional items to share during the program’s duration. In addition, the health plan will provide a stipend to the students committed to participate in the program four days (16 hours) a week. “Education is key and, if provided, I feel that each person will make an informed decision. As an ambassador, I hope to spread the word that lack of insurance, immigration status, or having permanent housing doesn't disqualify anyone from receiving vaccinations and boosters,” said Sophia Zamora, SBVC Student Ambassador. The project is set to run from January 4 to March 31 on both campuses. “We understand there are concerns and fears associated with the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Takashi Wada, IEHP’s Chief Medical Officer. “Learning from a qualified, well-informed peer can help drive positive influences and healthy decision making. We hope to increase those opportunities for students by empowering student ambassadors with all they need to spark conversations that will ultimately lead to healthier students and communities.”
Latest News - Meet Jose: Living the sweet life
inning celebrity famous for that “box of chocolates” movie line. And yes, Hanks even uttered the well-known quote when visiting Jose, who has an intellectual developmental disability: cerebral palsy. In some ways, Jose’s life mirrors that of the fictional Forrest Gump. “I grew up with (leg) braces and when I got my first pair of braces, that movie ‘Forrest Gump’ came out and his mom in the movie reminded me of my mom,” said Jose, a physical accessibility review survey specialist at Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP). “And I used to be very, very sad … I wasn’t like the other kids. I would fall or trip; sometimes I would even have to use a wheelchair to move.” Like the fictional Forrest, Jose’s story is filled with hope and inspiration. In 2006, Jose completed his bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Services at California State University, Los Angeles. In 2020, he was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to the California State Independent Living Council. He also serves on the support team for the Inland Empire Disabilities Collaborative. And on June 12, 2022, Jose was asked to deliver a commencement speech at Loma Linda University (LLU), where he earned a Community Health Worker certification. He was also the first individual with an intellectual developmental disability to graduate from the San Manuel Gateway College/LLU program. Admittedly, Jose, 39, experienced nerves about speaking in front of 500 people. Leading up to the big day, he prepared through meditation, taking deep breaths and listening to the same classical music he used to enjoy with his mother, who died on Jan. 20, 2022. Jose remembers thinking about his mother when he was called up to the podium, asking her: “Be in my heart and tell me what to say.” As if his mother may have heard that plea, Jose’s speech turned out wonderfully. “I was excited and thrilled about giving a speech,” he said. “I focused on the importance of reflecting how important it is to improve the quality of life for others working in the field of community health.” ‘I’M JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE’ Today, Jose is a valued member of IEHP’s community health team – where he’s worked since 2017 – interacting with IEHP Members at public events throughout the Inland Empire. But Jose knows firsthand the kinds of challenges the disabled population faces. After all, he’s personally faced a series of health issues related to his cerebral palsy: learning to walk with leg braces at the age of 3, seizures resulting from epilepsy and negative reactions to medications. Not to mention multiple hospital stays and the bullying in school. “People with disabilities like myself … we’re seen as people that really can’t be progressive and basically, our only options are to be institutionalized or being imprisoned or not having equal resources like everyone else,” said Jose, whose determination helped overcome his challenges and his leg braces, which he stopped needing in 1997. As a member of IEHP’s community health team, Jose shares his common experiences with other disabled people. “The beautiful part of him being out in the community is the connection that he is able to have with the Members,” said Carmen Ramirez, manager IEHP Community Behavioral Health and Social Supports. For Jose, a highlight of those connections centered on IEHP’s community efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through IEHP’s partnership with the Inland Empire Disabilities Collaborative, IEHP formed a COVID-19 response program to help Inland Empire residents meet the basic needs of food and access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at a time when those items were so scarce. “When I was able to make a difference in a family, it impacted me because I’m not a person with a disability – I’m just like everybody else,” said Jose, his voice quivering with emotion. “And I want to help people.” Jose is committed to IEHP’s Mission, Vision and Values, always putting the Member at the center of his universe, according to Carmen. “It always goes back to passion – and with Jose, you see it in his work, you see it in his words, you see it in his connections that he has within the community,” she said. For Jose, it’s all about “doing the right thing,” which he says is built on trust. “We have to make sure that we are doing everything in our power to do what we have to do to improve the quality for that specific Member,” he said. “Trust is always a big thing … you have to demonstrate that you’re keeping your word at all times.” A HEART FOR LEARNING After his mother passed away, Jose set a goal to one day return to school and gain more professional work skills. Then, thanks to IEHP’s sponsorship, along came the chance to enter LLU-San Manuel Gateway College’s Community Health Care Worker certificate program. At first, Jose wasn’t sure he could achieve his goal. “I remember Jose sitting down with me … he’s like: ‘I don’t know if I can do it; I’ve heard that it’s very intensive,’” Carmen recalled. “And I said, ‘You’re not alone, it’s OK, we got you – we have your back, we’re going to help you get through these nine weeks.’” During his commencement speech, Jose shared what that moment was like for him. “When they called me in at IEHP and they said, ‘Hey, there’s an opportunity to go to Loma Linda University,’ that opened my heart,” he said. So, Jose entered the program, putting trust in himself and the IEHP Team Members supporting his journey. He credited Carmen for teaching him time management, so he could succeed at his regular, full-time job duties while adding more tasks as a student. Standing before that captive audience in his cap and gown that summer day, Jose told them what completing this certification meant to him: “I have the opportunity to do what I love to do and that is to serve people, help people, empower them, show them the right way.” When he finished his speech at LLU, there was a huge round of applause and even a standing ovation. As for the people who told Jose he would never have a so-called “normal life,” well, he gets the last line in that script. “Growing up, they told me I wasn’t going to be able to have kids or I wasn’t going to get married – and now, I have three beautiful daughters and my wife,” said the proud husband of Adriana and father to Hilda, 15; Viviana, 13; and Fatima, 11. “Wow – that’s why life is always a box of chocolates … because you never know what you’re going to get.” -View an inspirational video about Jose’s journey.
Latest News - IEHP Supports Local Trunk-Or-Treat for Children with Disabilities
loween this year with a special Trunk-Or-Treat in San Bernardino. The second annual Trunk-Or-Treat event is the result of a partnership between Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) and Southern California Resource Services for Independent Living (SCRS-IL) and will be held on Saturday, Oct. 15, from 5-8 p.m. at the SCRS-IL’s San Bernardino office at 1950 S. Sunwest Lane. “This is the only Inland Empire event serving our disabled community in the month of October,” said SCRS-IL Chief Executive Officer Rudy Contreras, who organized the inaugural Trunk-Or-Treat in just 30 days last year after learning the community needed a Halloween activity for children with disabilities during the pandemic. The Trunk-Or-Treat will feature carnival games, candy, accessible spooky mazes, snacks, refreshments, community resources and a vaccine clinic. “Last year’s event was a reopening of inclusivity, and this year, we’re building on that with more sponsors, games, prizes, booths and even more community,” added Contreras. “With partners like IEHP, we’re able to make that happen and create safe, inclusive spaces that celebrate the diversity of our community.” Attendees who receive a vaccine at the event will receive a free cooler or beach chair, and IEHP members ages 6 and older who receive their first vaccine will be given a $50 gift card. Grocery boxes will also be provided to the first 150 families in attendance. “When community partners and organizations come together and support the needs of our neighbors and communities, we move one step closer to ensuring vibrant health to those we serve,” said IEHP Independent Living and Diversity Services Community Health Representative Jose Solorzano. “It doesn’t get any better than that.” For more information, visit https://www.scrs-ilc.org/trunkortreat.
Latest News - IEHP Partners to Continue Decreasing COVID-19 Infection Rates in IE
accine clinics to remind community residents that it’s not too late to receive their COVID-19 vaccines. Events are scheduled throughout the week and include partnerships with Music Changing Lives and Never Stop Grinding Impact. To date, approximately 43% of San Bernardino County residents are not fully vaccinated, contributing to the importance of on-going clinics and support. “One of the most effective steps we can take to keep COVID-19 rates low is to be fully-vaccinated,” said IEHP Chief Medical Officer Dr. Takashi Wada. “We’re thrilled that COVID-19 infection rates have decreased in recent weeks, and we’d love to keep it that way so we can continue to enjoy the community and public events we love so much.” The health plan will be kicking off the month of April by sponsoring a walk-in vaccine clinic at the 2nd Annual Community Easter Event, hosted by IE Survive and Sista’s Making A Difference, on Sunday, April 10, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Music Changing Lives Urban Garden (261 W. 40th Street in San Bernardino). The event is in partnership with So Cal Trash Army and Just Plant It, and will include food, music, raffles, arts and crafts and an easter egg hunt. Information on this event can be found on the official event Facebook page. IEHP will also support Never Stop Grinding Impact’s Spring Easter Event in partnership with the City of Rialto on Saturday, April 16, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 150 South Palm Ave. in Rialto. This free event will include a vaccine clinic, game booths, prizes, inflatable jumpers, gifts for kids and adults, snacks, and more. Registration is required and can be completed by visiting the Never Stop Grinding Impact’s Facebook page. “Collaborating with our community partners is one of the best ways we can actively engage with our communities and meet our Members where they are,” said Marci Coffey, IEHP’s Director of Partnerships. “We’re grateful for all the opportunities to work together with the community organizations and vaccine partners, like the County of San Bernardino’s Public Health Department and Rite Aid, which support our vaccine efforts in the region.” In addition to these events, the health plan continues to sponsor community clinics and events throughout the year to ensure Inland Empire residents have needed access to COVID-19 vaccines. For more information on events and clinics, visit iehp.org.
Latest News - Breast Cancer Survivor and Author Visits IEHP Community Resource Centers
in Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) Community Resource Centers this month for free readings and conversations about breast cancer awareness, including the importance of screenings. Bonus: The first 100 session attendees will receive a free signed copy of Franklin’s book! “If I can help just one woman, or one man, understand that even though a breast cancer diagnosis is scary, it doesn't have to be a life sentence nor equal death,” shared Franklin. “It is, however, a lifelong journey that one does not take alone, but with a village of survivors.” Franklin will be visiting the health plan’s community resource centers at the following dates and times: Saturday, Oct. 8, from 10-11:30 a.m. at IEHP’s Riverside Center, 3590 Tyler St., Suite 101, Riverside, CA 92503 Saturday, Oct. 15, from 10-11:30 a.m. at IEHP’s Victorville Center, 12353 Mariposa Road, Suites C-2 & C-3, Victorville, CA 92395 Saturday, Oct. 22, from 10-11:30 a.m. at IEHP’s San Bernardino Center, 805 W. Second St., Suite C, San Bernardino, CA 92410 “Mammograms and breast exams save lives,” added Franklin. “Women should educate themselves thoroughly about their bodies and medical history and should never be afraid to ask questions during doctor’s visits or get a second opinion. Early detection and knowledge are key.” In addition to Franklin’s visit, IEHP Community Resource Centers will also host breast and cervical health classes, food demonstrations, and provide pink T-shirts and ribbons (while supplies last) for visitors to support or commemorate loved ones in the fight against breast cancer. “Laura’s story is an honest account of her vulnerability and how she found hope in her faith through her breast cancer journey,” said IEHP Community Resource Center Manager Maria Gallegos. “We are so excited to have Laura share her story with our communities and inspire women in our community to engage in their own wellness.” Registration for Franklin’s book reading and talk is not required and community resource center events are always free and open to the public. Additional information about the centers and their class offerings is available on IEHP’s Facebook page. “Our community resource centers serve as a wellness hub for all who visit us,” said IEHP Community Resource Center Manager Delia Orosco. “We’re thrilled to welcome Laura to our centers and connect her to our members and communities to inspire even more health and wellness.”
Latest News - San Bernardino Housing Authority to Host Free Workshops in Victorville
lle Community Resource Center on-site partner, is hosting housing support workshops for county residents. These free workshops will offer residents a wide range of information on housing assistance resources, including how to sign up for rental assistance and learn more about the county’s housing voucher program. Each workshop is open to the public and will be held at the Victorville Community Resource Center located at 12353 Mariposa Road, Suites C-2 & C-3. The workshops are scheduled from 9-10 a.m. on the following Wednesdays: Aug. 3 Aug. 17 Sept. 7 Sept. 21 By providing housing resources workshops at the Victorville Community Center, customers can learn about affordable housing services offered by HACSB and access supportive services from other community partners in one location,” said HACSB Director of Policy and Public Relations, Nicole Beydler. “Our hope is that this partnership helps to connect affordable housing and related services, and that customers will be able to leverage these services toward achieving their goals.” HACSB focuses on providing housing assistance through resources authorized and funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Through this work, HACSB is one of the most progressive housing authorities in the country and the largest provider of affordable housing in San Bernardino County. Currently, HACSB assists about 26,000 people, most of whom are seniors, individuals with disabilities, veterans and children. “We are proud to partner with IEHP to bring these housing resource workshops to the community. Safe and stable housing is fundamental, but it takes more than housing to achieve an enriched quality of life,” added Beydler. Through IEHP and HACSB’s collaboration, the health plan’s Victorville Community Resource center was also designated as a United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) EnVision Center last year. This highlights the center's ability and commitment to empower households with resources and support needed to become self-sufficient. Resources pertain to economic empowerment, educational advancement, health and wellness and character leadership. “Knowledge and information are power,” said IEHP Victorville Community Resource Center Manager Delia Orosco. “In collaboration with HACSB and our other center partners, we can empower our communities with information needed to truly inspire positive change in their own lives.” In addition to HACSB, IEHP’s Victorville center currently hosts five, on-site partners to support community residents. Partners include Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy, TODEC Legal Center, Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County and the Goodwill of Southern California. Click here for more information on IEHP’s Community Resource Centers.