The guilds supporting Valley Children’s Healthcare announced a $5 million endowment Monday that aims to transform the health and wellbeing of children.

The Guilds Center for Community Health will be the first of its kind in the Central Valley to link clinical care, community partners, and the healthcare network’s community health initiatives to improve the health of children.


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portrait of Lynne Ashbeck

We know that clinical care only accounts for 20% of the factors that impact a child’s health and the remaining 80% 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.” — Lynne Ashbeck, Valley Children’s senior vice president

“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, at a news conference.

“We know that clinical care only accounts for 20% of the factors that impact a child’s health and the remaining 80% 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% will help to give kids their best chance to simply be kids and to avoid the longer-term health consequences that follow.”

Data Will Shape Plan to Help Children

The center’s work will be shaped by health data across Valley Children’s 12-county service region and working closely with 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. “

Three Pilot Programs

Through 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 the popular family attraction.

Great Need for Better Healthcare Outcomes

A 2018 report by the University of California stated that the San Joaquin Valley is one of the “least healthy regions in California” for adults and children.

“More than four million people live in the SJV, with approximately 41% of the population covered by Medi-Cal. Among California’s 58 counties, Fresno, Kern, Madera, and Tulare rank
52nd, 53rd, 49th, and 50th respectively for health outcomes,” the report said.

Watch: Derek Carr Talks About Guilds Center for Community Health

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