The Guilds of Valley Children’s Healthcare has announced a $5 million endowment dedicated to transforming the health and wellbeing of the Valley’s children through the establishment of the Guilds Center for Community Health. The Center will be the first of its kind in the Central Valley to link clinical care, community partners and the healthcare network’s current community health initiatives to improve the health of children where they live, learn and play.
“A few years ago, our Board of Trustees added a simple phrase to our mission — ‘…to continuously improve the health and wellbeing of children’ — and those words have shaped our thinking that has brought us to the formation of this Center,” said Todd Suntrapak, Valley Children’s Healthcare President and CEO.
“We know that clinical care only accounts for 20 percent of the factors that impact a child’s health and the remaining 80 percent is influenced by a wide range of factors including where they live, what they eat, the quality of their housing and the safety of their neighborhoods,” added Lynne Ashbeck, Valley Children’s Senior Vice President of Community Engagement and Population Wellness. “Our ability to influence some of those challenges in the ‘80 percent’ will help to give kids their best chance to simply be kids and to avoid the longer-term health consequences that follow.”
The Center’s work will be shaped by health data across Valley Children’s 12-county service region and working closely with many community organizations, school districts, behavioral and public health agencies and others.
“The essence of the Center’s work is to focus on keeping kids well in their own environment,” says Dr. Carmela Sosa, medical director, Valley Children’s Primary Care and newly named medical director of the Guilds Center for Community Health. “The Center will continue to expand our local partnerships to align our work and commitment to improving the health of our children in the most impactful, transformative and sustainable ways.
Through some initial pilot programs, the Center has:
• Screened approximately 1,400 children for food insecurity at Valley Children’s Olivewood Pediatrics in Merced. Sixty percent of the children screened were identified as food insecure.
• Provided fresh fruit to more than 3,000 children in partnership with Vallarta Supermarkets.
• Expanded “George’s Pass” to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo to help children with autism spectrum disorder and sensory issues enjoy this community resource.
Community health and education have been integrated into the work of Valley Children’s for decades. With partnerships throughout our region for nurse education and programs such as Safe Kids which addresses trauma prevention such as water safety, car seat safety, injury prevention and more, we will expand on this work to serve as a centralized resource for children in the Central Valley.
“The Guilds of Valley Children’s Healthcare have been a powerful force behind many of our organization’s boldest initiatives. Their support of this Center and its mission — to transform the health and wellbeing of children where they live, learn and play — is perhaps as bold as that vision of our five founding mothers to build a hospital just for kids more than 70 years ago,” adds Suntrapak. “Working together with our regional partners, our communities will be healthier because of this work. The Guilds Center for Community Health is our ‘next generation’ promise to the kids of this Valley.”