Ongoing Resource for Key BCHD Updates, Issues and Facts

Updated 5/13/2021

 

To my community, 

 

A big thank you for all who applied to be community advisors on the BCHD Property Committee.  I am very impressed with the many stellar applicants, all with excellent experience and knowledge to offer. 

 

My monthly coffee meetups have been a wonderful forum to hear form the community. I will host the monthly community hour on the third Thursday of the month at 5:30pm for May

August: 5/20, 6/17, 7/15, 8/19.

Monthly BCHD Updates

Monthly Community Hour with Dr. Koo

Since the last Board meeting:

  • Served as a Lead Clinical Volunteer at the Adventure Plex on 5/8. Thank you to everyone who helped facilitate teen COVID-19 vaccinations!

April, 2021:

  • On 4/23 I attended the COVID-19 telebriefing for public officials and metrics continue to be favorable in LA County: LA County is in the Orange Tier with less than 500 new cases/day and less than 500 hospitalizations/day.LA County experienced a dramatic decrease in deaths this last month; as of mid-April, averaging 5-7 deaths/day compared to 3/13/31 averaged 31 deaths/day. LA County's test positivity rate has remained less than 1% all week and officials are strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. We are hopeful to maintain these trends but there are still concerns: 1. That we remain faithful to the COVID guidelines and public heath recommendations 2. We increase the number of people who are fully vaccinated. In LA County, we are seeing an increase in the circulation of the UK variant, especially amongst outbreaks. This variant is more infectious and more deadly. This past week is the first time we have seen the number of COVID cases in students greater than in staff. To reach the yellow tier and allow more openings, we need to get to a case rate of less than 2. All county vaccination sites are accepting people without an appointment for vaccinations- please spread the word.

March 2021:

  • The Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed Healthy Living Campus on Beach Cities Health District's property at 514 N. Prospect Ave. was released. BCHD has extended the requisite 45-day public review and comment period to 90 days, extending from March 10 through June 10. Official public comments about the technical sufficiency of the Draft EIR impact analysis, mitigation measures, and alternatives will be accepted until June 10, 2021 at 5 p.m. There are a variety of ways to submit written or oral public comments.

Email: EIR@bchd.org

Mail: Nick Meisinger re: Healthy Living Campus

Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc.

9177 Sky Park Ct.

San Diego, CA 92123

 

Provide oral comments during one of these public opportunities:

  • Wed., March 24, 6:30 p.m.

  • Tues., April 13, 6:30 – 8 p.m.

  • Sat., April 17, Noon – 1:30 p.m.

 

For more information on how to submit a comment or join a meeting, visit bchdcampus.org./eir

  • On 3/3, I volunteered at the AdventurePlex offering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible community members. Thank you to all of the medical and non-medical volunteers making a difference in the South Bay!

February 2021:

  • On 2/17, I met with Ali Steward, BCHD Director of Youth Services, and Tom Bakaly, BCHD CEO, about the ALLCOVE project and expanding teen substance use prevention programming in the South Bay. I discussed the importance of engaging local teens and young adults who have struggled with substance abuse as a potentially powerful resource for drug use prevention, and I shared how important it is to not only focus on cannabis and alcohol, but also include opiates, cocaine and methamphetamine as these are predominantly used in the South Bay. 

  • On February 19th, I attended the LA County COVID Telebriefing for elected officials. In LA County, the number of new COVID cases is decreasing daily, but it's still high— LA County remains in the purple tier with a 10.1% infection rate. To date, LA County has fully vaccinated 5.1% of residents aged 16 years or older. LA County's vaccine supply remains an issue; although we have the capacity to administer over 500K vaccinations per week, in the beginning of February, we only had about 219K doses to administer. 

  • I attended an orientation to the Community Health Committee with Kerianne Lawson, BCHD Chief Programs Office. The Community Health Committee is responsible for assessing community health and wellness concerns, monitoring the availability of community health resources, and recommending programs, service areas and business ventures to promote high-quality standards of health in the Beach Cities. While on this committee, I hope to help establish an improved, research based data collection and evaluation process. Additionally, I think increasing community engagement- both from residents and providers- is essential.

January 2021:

  • I was assigned to the Community Health Committee and the Property Committee.

  •  On 1/13, I had my monthly one-on-one meeting with Tom Bakaly which focused on updates regarding COVID testing, collaborating with LA County to offer COVID vaccinations, the HLC campus, and my committee assignments. 

  • On 1/17, I volunteered at BCHD's COVID testing site in Redondo Beach

  • On 1/19, I attended the COVID-19 Vaccine Virtual Town Hall by LA County Department of Public Health

  • On 1/21, I participated in BCHD partnership for youth coalition meeting which showcased a Photovoice Project by the Youth Advisory Council about a underage drinking

  • On 1/22, I attended an LA County COVID telebriefing. LA County has provided over 850k COVID vaccine doses and are prioritizing 2nd doses for healthcare workers and skilled nursing facility residents and staff. 

  • I am looking forward to the strategic development half day on Jan. 29th.

 

December 2020:

  • Completed Public Service Ethics Training and CSDA Governance Foundations Training

  • Participated in the LA County COVID telebriefing

  • Designed and disseminated a HLC survey to the Beach Cities community

  • Participated in December BCHD Board Meeting during which I raised the issue of term limits for Board members, expanding the Board to 7 members, and inquired about not having public discussion/input prior to a motion being presented during Board meetings. These issues were added to the agenda for Strategic Development Day on 1/29. 

 

Thank you to the community members who attended my monthly coffee meetup on Thursday, May 20th, I heard:

  • Attendants discussed the importance of Beach Cities’ residents and the BCHD  building trust and improved collaboration.

  • A strong request was made for the BCHD to address homelessness by targeting root causes of mental illness and addiction.

  • A difficult but respectful discussion regarding the safety of the 514 building due to seismic issues occurred.

  • An emphasis was placed on the BCHD offering programs that are evidence-based and with trackable outcomes.

On Monday, April 26th, the main topics were:

  1. Grant Funding- Applications have gone out for grant funding. Community members requested that BCHD release the names of the applicants as well as share their presentations with the public.

  2. Youth Wellness Center State Grant- There were questions about the requirements associated with the state grant. Specifically, would BCHD serve any surrounding cities outside of the South Bay and are there MOUs?

  3.  Residents perceive homelessness as an important and current issue. Community members questioned whether BCHD would be open to offering unoccupied buildings as temporary homeless shelters.

  4. Draft EIR- There was a request for a more detailed no-project analysis in the EIR. There's still some confusion about options for retrofitting the building for seismic safety versus true demolition.

  5. A strong encouragement was made for BHCD to truly stick in our lane as an organization for preventative health. There's a hope that board members will scrutinize consultant reports in terms of BCHD's true goals.

On Monday, March 22nd, the main topics were:

1. Participants expressed gratitude to BCHD particularly for the gym and grief support group.

2. There was some concern about the safety of the gym opening for in-person exercise in April and a strong request for continued zoom classes to be offered simultaneously.

3. There was excitement to hear that the former request to have a participation count on the zoom platform during the Board Meetings was going to be in place for the March meeting. Additionally, there was a request that BCHD consider only displaying video of the directors and the individual speaking during the meetings rather than all attendees.

4. There was continued sentiment that the BCHD is continuing to push the HLC development ahead without adequately returning to the people to inquire what community residents actually need and want. A public vote would be appreciated. There was a request that the BCHD meet with the council members in all three cities to gather information as these council members have a good pulse on their city. There was also a sense of disappointment that BCHD has become a large bureaucracy more interested in continuing its revenue and growing as a business than in fulfilling its mission of preventive health and offering services not already available in the community.

 

On Monday, Feb. 22nd, I heard:

1. Residents wanting to have forums for public input on the EIR and HLC beyond BCHD board and committee meetings. Ideas were having special meetings specifically on the EIR/HLC and forming another community working group.

2. Residents hoping for BCHD being able to administer vaccinations in the South Bay.

3. Residents wanting to understand how many participants are attending BCHD Zoom meetings. We discussed adding a counter to BCHD Zoom meetings and maybe adding a brief initial survey to identify participants as BCHD employees or residents and if residents, from which city.

On Monday, Jan. 25th., the main topics were:

  1. BCHD needs policies that define what "enhancing" the health of the community means, who the district is serving, and the proportion of those being served who are residents of HB, RB and MB.

  2. BCHD needs to provide research-valid, evidence-based outcomes of their programs.

  3. The public cannot hold BCHD accountable without these policies, definitions and outcomes.

  4. The homeless population and indirectly, addiction and mental illness, needs to be a priority.

  5. There should be a paradigm shift from providing so many free services and services already available and affordable within the community to services that generate revenue.

  6. The BCHD needs program-based financial assessments that comprehensively include revenue sources and expenses. 

  7. BCHD should consider extending their territory to include Torrance, especially as most of their programs allow Torrance residents to participate and/or impact residents of Torrance.

Survey Results

We received over 200 total survey responses. Of the survey respondents, 103 live in Redondo Beach, 89 in Torrance, 11 in Manhattan Beach, 9 in Hermosa Beach, and 8 responded 'other'. 

 

When asked about the most important components of the Health Living Space redesign, survey respondents identified green space, gym and leased medical space as the top three. These responses are illustrated in the bar graph below.

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The majority of input for the 'Other' category were comments to not develop the Healthy Living Campus. There were also suggestions for childcare, community classes, and an urgent care facility. 

 

Like many of you, I value green space tremendously. We need to understand, however, that there are trade-offs and cross-agendas for Beach Cities Health District and the Healthy Living Campus (HLC). For instance,

  • Do we desire the HLC to protect revenue and offer a continuum of care for older adults?

  • Or are we willing to let go of the HLC as a financial investment and potentially cut BCHD programs?

Another key finding from the survey involved term limits. According to the majority of survey respondents, there should be term limits for BCHD board members. 

Screen Shot 2020-12-14 at 4.30.18 PM.png

Ongoing BCHD Issues

The following are key Beach Cities Health District issues, updates and areas for improved understanding. 

  1. Although all three “Beach Cities” are in the South Bay, they are, in reality, three different cities with disparate views on many health goals and priorities. Therefore, it is essential that we achieve improved community engagement and representation. To that end, I think it is worth considering changing our voting at large to voting in zones (by either remaining a 5 person board or expanding to a 7 person board). I also think term limits would ensure the addition of new viewpoints and ideas on the Board more frequently.

  2. We need program-based budgeting and financial review. Good news! In January, the Finance Committee will release finances on the program level. Stay tuned for further updates. 

  3. Based on my input, BCHD will soon share a financial comparison of the different options related to the Healthy Living Campus which will include doing nothing, retrofit only, and 5 story vs 6 story building.

  4. We need to establish more stringent evidence-based evaluations of the BCHD programs and present data in a scientific manner.

  5. The Healthy Living Campus' Environmental Impacts Report (EIR) is going to be presented at the beginning of 2021. It is very important to understand that EIR approval is not the same as HLC project approval. It is also important to understand that having an EIR with a broad scope is crucial, not to push through a large project but instead to have the data to compare with subsequent design alterations. The BCHD is granting a 90-day public review period for the EIR. This means that, most likely, any approval of the HLC will not occur until early fall, 2021.  I think pushing for another Community Working Group and obtaining more community input is crucial.

  6. I want to continue to hear from you. In the New Year, I will be hosting monthly coffee zoom meetings on Monday mornings from 8am-9am.

  7. I spoke at the Polliwog Park School Rally on 11/19/20, not as a representative of the BCHD but as a mental health expert and advocate for mental and social wellness. During the pandemic, we have witnessed increase in anxiety, depression, substance use disorders, and PTSD across the life span (see figure). 

 

At the rally, I shared that emergency departments are too often the first point of care for children’s mental health emergencies. Compared with 2019, since COVID, the proportion of mental health-related visits for children aged 5–11 has increased 24% and for children ages 12–17 years has increased 31%.

 

As humans, we are social species. We are hardwired to connect. There is a strong association between social isolation during childhood and adolescence and the development of depression and anxiety. Increased screen time, poor sleep, social isolation and less physical activity are known risk factors for mental illness. 

 

For healthy development, children and teens need school, athletics and the arts. Going to school is essential for the development of self-identity, for separation-individuation, for the acquisition of social skills, and to learn compassion and empathy. Competing in sports, performing in theater/dance and artistic expression are crucial for cognitive function, and for learning to work with others as a team player, for leadership, self-esteem and learning healthy competitive skills.

 

Key Takeaways about Mental Health and COVID-19:

  1. Mental illness is common

  2. We all need to work together to destigmatize mental illness.

  3. Social isolation, lack of exercise, and increased screen times are all significant risk factors for mental illness

  4.  Social, athletic and artistic needs, and the risks of mental illness, have to be considered along with the risk of contracting COVID when we are making decisions re school closures and online learning.

  5. Mental health should be valued equally to physical health

In summary, I am committed to ongoing community engagement about key issues and topics related to Beach Cities Health District.

 

If you or someone you know has questions, comments or concerns, I encourage you to attend the BCHD Board meetings, join my monthly Zoom meetup, contact me directly via drkoo@neurowellnessspa.com 

Most respectfully, 

Martha

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