22
May
2020
|
06:41 PM
America/Los_Angeles

Better Together: a health care consortium with a crucial goal

Keck Medicine of USC is proud to be a part of the Better Together consortium, which brings several health care institutions together to inform and encourage the greater Los Angeles community while looking beyond stay-at-home orders.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic led government officials to call for lockdowns and quarantines across the nation, health care professionals in Southern California have noticed what they now call a “silent sub-epidemic”: Citizens who need medical attention have been putting off care out of fear that they may catch COVID-19 at their local hospital or doctor’s office.

This trend has proven to be a severe threat to public health. Emergency medicine physicians have reported a wave of patients arriving in later stages of heart attacks, strokes and appendicitis — all dangerous events that require early treatment for the best possible outcomes.

While public fear is understandable, emergency rooms haven’t stopped functioning and many, if not all, are currently set up to separate the COVID-patients from those with other health concerns. In addition to emergency room availability, the reopening of primary, specialty and urgent care locations has come with safety provisions to ensure that most people in the region can now safely get the medical attention they need.

Implementation of these precautions is not widely known, and health care organizations needed to find a way to get word out to the public. This is how Rhoda Weiss, PhD, national health care consultant, came to lead the development of a consortium that would combine the efforts of six major health care organizations in Southern California.

A collaboration of resources and outreach

Called “Better Together,” the consortium was launched publicly on May 5 with a mission to inspire Angelenos, acknowledge the hard work of all citizens of Los Angeles, especially caregivers, and most importantly to urge community members to seek medical care when they need it.

Participants include Keck Medicine of USC, Cedars Sinai, Dignity Health, Kaiser Permanente, Providence and UCLA Health. Funded by media partners and ad space purchased by each organization prior to the pandemic, the campaign is slated to run throughout the greater Los Angeles area through June 30.

“There is concern that patients with serious conditions are putting off critical treatments,” said Tom Jackiewicz, CEO of Keck Medicine. “We know that seeking immediate care for heart attacks and strokes can be life-saving and may minimize long-term effects. Our hospitals and health care providers are ready and open to serve your needs.”

Reaching the widest audience possible

Because the primary focus of the campaign is to encourage people to seek medical attention when they need it, it was crucial to make the message widely accessible. Campaign ads were prepared in English, Spanish, Chinese and Korean and designed for distribution via television, radio, print, digital displays and social media.

The ads themselves are concise and clear, asking the community to “Get care when you need it,” and reminding that “Life may be on pause. Your health isn’t.”

Longer format ads include a message:

For those who stay in and those who work through the night.

For those who share their food and comfort, their hopes and fears.

For all that you’ve done in this great city of Angels, we see you and appreciate you.

Life may be on pause. Your health isn’t. We’re here to take care of you.

A mission to save lives across the region

On the consortium’s website, la.BetterTogether.health, a joint message from all of the organizations’ CEOs expresses hope for the consortium’s mission, along with encouragement to the public to not hesitate to seek needed care.

Among the health care needs faced by the Los Angeles community is the necessity for pediatric vaccinations to protect children from potentially deadly diseases. Patients of all ages who experience symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, numbness in one side of the body or a severe headache should seek medical attention immediately.

To learn more about the consortium, visit la.BetterTogether.health.

— Kate Faye

Originally published in HSC News.

Image: Courtesy LA Consortium