Cedars-Sinai and California Community Foundation provide $1.5 million for behavioral health outreach

Willowbrook—The Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital will integrate behavioral health care with physical health care in South Los Angeles, thanks to innovative gifts from Cedars-Sinai and the California Community Foundation (CCF).

Mental health care and substance abuse treatment can be difficult to access and no more so than in South Los Angeles, where there is already a severe shortage of medical providers. More than 11,000 patients with a mental health diagnosis present each year at MLKCH’s busy emergency room and 25 percent of hospitalizations are for patients with substance abuse issues.

Cedars-Sinai provided the hospital (MLKCH) with more than $1 million and CCF contributed an additional $500,000 to address these critical and complicating obstacles to well-being. The combined gifts will enable MLKCH to expand the “wrap-around” care team that treats complex patients—those diagnosed with one or more serious health issues. The expanded team will now include a psychologist, substance abuse counselors and licensed clinical social workers—along with other doctors, nurses and care managers—to ensure that patients receive a comprehensive course of treatment.

MLK Community Medical Group team
MLK Community Medical Group physicians Dr. Ancil Philip (left) and Dr. Adan Romero (right) speak with population health manager Nancy Torres

"Integrating the treatment of physical and behavioral health has powerful implications for all patients,” said Thomas M. Priselac, Cedars-Sinai President and CEO. “It is treatment that takes into account all of the factors that contribute to good health. Cedars-Sinai is proud to help launch this work with the California Community Foundation and MLKCH in South Los Angeles."

Both organizations are committed to helping expand access and improve care to underserved populations, especially those experiencing homelessness, in Los Angeles County.

“We share the hospital’s value of caring for the health needs of vulnerable residents of South L.A.,” said Antonia Hernández, President and CEO of the California Community Foundation. “These gifts recognize that everyone deserves access to both physical and mental health care.”

Nearly 80 percent of MLKCH’s patients are on Medi-Cal, the public insurance that serves low income Californians. Twelve percent of all patients seen by MLKCH annually are experiencing homelessness.

“There is a lot of stress in this community that cannot be solved with just a bandage or a splint,” said Dr. Elaine Batchlor, CEO of MLKCH. “The Cedars-Sinai and CCF gifts recognize that behavioral health is how physical health happens.  It gives patients the emotional support and other tools they need to recover and stay healthy.”

Learn more from two MLK Community Medical Group doctors about why integrated healthcare is so crucial

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