Successful Physicians Monthly: Non-Profit’s Preventative Health Services Help Medical Community

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Dr. Dan Anderson is the President and CEO of Riverside Community Health Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing preventative health education and services to the low-income, uninsured population of Riverside. He recently spoke with Ja Marr Brown of Successful Physicians Magazine about the services his organization offers and how they can be beneficial to physicians in the community.

We have cooking classes, exercise classes, nutrition classes…where they can get empowered as a patient as well as a person in the community about how to better their lifestyle.

“My journey began as a spiritual path in my life in the sense that I wanted to help people,” Dr. Dan Anderson said when taking about the beginnings of the Riverside Community Health Foundation. After studying theology and divinity, Anderson became a hospital chaplain which opened his eyes to a fundamental aspect he said was missing in the health care industry; the “care” in healthcare.

“Doctors don’t always know how to talk to a patient, especially in the state of dying.” They know how to take care of them and do the medical side but not how to talk to the patient or the family. “And so I became an advocate, in being able to stand there side by side with them and ask questions to the doctor and bring a comfort level. That inspired me. To advocate for people in the community and speak for what they need.”

What began as a set of clinics to treat the ill, do free screenings and provide dental care soon opened up more gateways of services as they realized what the community really needed. “Our system drove us to more of a medical model, meaning when you’re sick, go ahead and show up. And in between there was nothing going on.” Anderson went on to say that it might then be two or three years before that same individual is sick again and comes in, but what about the people who have a stroke during that time? Strokes are preventable. He argues that such a person who had access to nutrition information, regular exercise and went in for an annual exam would be far less likely to have a stroke, thus potentially saving more lives.

“We have cooking classes, exercise classes, nutrition classes… where they can get empowered as a patient as well as a person in the community about how to better their lifestyle.” Today the focus is on reaching out to those low-income, uninsured members of the community who have limited access to health care and providing them with the knowledge and access to services so they can take the preventative steps to create a healthy life.

When asked about what most medical professional in the region may not know about their organization, Anderson said, “Our foundation grants. One of the things we granted in the Riverside area was to insure the uninsured children. And so we have money going out that insures 500 children. Mind you it’s 500 and we wish it was more. But they have full insurance and are able to come through the doors of hospitals and those hospitals don’t lose any money. They get reimbursed and that’s a plus. We’re able to put $2.2 million of grants in the community every year around health care and more around the preventative idea that keeps individuals from just using the ER.”

In the future, “I hope we’re still looked at as an organization of integrity who’s constantly building new programs, strengthening the current programs and reaching out.” Right now, they have around 100,000 encounters per year. Within 10-15 years, Anderson sees that number doubling if not tripling.

Physicians sometimes teach the free seminars offered to the community and gain patients from the crowd because they like the way a doctor approaches something or his particular method. RCHF also encourages doctors to tell their patients about the free services and accessible clinics the organization offers. Not only do these places and classes help relieve doctors who may already be overloaded, but they help encourage individuals to make healthier choices and create an overall healthier community which is beneficial for every member of society.

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Dwight Cromie

Dwight Cromie
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