Silicon Valley Business Journal: The Health Trust’s CEO makes connections over coffee breaks

By: Danny King | August 2, 2018

After serving as CEO of Asian Americans for Community Involvement for 11 years and a shorter stint as local government and community-relations director at Stanford Health CareMichele Lew capitalized on an opportunity to meld her interests in community service and public wellness by becoming CEO of nonprofit The Health Trust in January.

The direct-service provider and funder of local community organizations employs about 130 people.

Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.


We asked Michele Lew to break down a typical work day for us.

Why did you join The Health Trust? I felt committed to helping our most vulnerable population to be as healthy as possible, particularly given what’s happening at the federal level. I’m seeing immigrants who are terrified of getting the government healthcare services they need so badly.

Continue reading the article.

California Health Report: Can Chef-Made Meals Serve as Medicine? State’s Low-Income Insurance Aims to Find Out

By: Ron Shinkman | July 26, 2018

On a recent morning northeast of downtown Los Angeles, Nick Cuccia turned his Volkswagen down a small alley. Cuccia, a retired editorial staffer for the Los Angeles Times, parked and unloaded a box from the trunk.

Inside was a week’s worth of chef-made meals for Jorge Marroquin, a 64-year-old retired factory worker who is in frail health. Marroquin is one of a handful of patients participating in a new state initiative that aims to keep low-income patients with congestive heart failure out of the hospital. Called “Food is Medicine,” the Los Angeles pilot program is operated by the local nonprofit Project Angel Food.

Headquartered in Hollywood, Project Angel Food received a $150,000 grant from the Medi-Cal health plan L.A. Care for startup purposes and will receive up to another $250,000 annually from the state to prepare meals for the program, according to Richard Ayoub, its executive director.

The three-year pilot project is being funded by the state of California to the tune of $6 million, with the intent of finding whether what is known as a “medically-tailored diet” can keep those with chronic illnesses out of the hospital.

In California, the overall hospital readmission rate for all patients was 14.5 percent in 2016. But among the Medi-Cal population, it’s 15.7 percent, according to data from the California Health and Human Services data portal. By comparison, the readmission rate for those with private insurance is 10.4 percent. Even before Medi-Cal coverage was dramatically expanded under the Affordable Care Act, readmissions were costing the program $10 billion a year.

Nationwide, 20 percent of patients with congestive heart failure are readmitted after a hospital discharge within 30 days, and half within six months.

The pilot project will focus on patients with congestive heart failure and is expected to serve about 1,000 Medi-Cal enrollees in all, whose hospital readmissions will be closely monitored. Aside from Project Angel Food, other pilot project participants include Project Open Hand in the Bay Area, the Ceres Community Project and Food For Thought in counties north of San Francisco, The Health Trust in Santa Clara County and Mama’s Kitchen in San Diego County.

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Mercury News: California’s push to make people healthy — and save taxpayers money

By: David Gorn, CALMatters | July 9, 2018

Diana Dooley may have led the largest agency in California’s government as secretary of health and human services for the past eight years, a job that led to her current post as Gov. Jerry Brown’s chief of staff — but she’s also a country gal from Hanford, in the Central Valley.

So despite the complexity of running an agency with an annual budget of $144 billion, horse sense told her what was basically wrong with the American health care system:

“One of the biggest problems in health care,” Dooley said in an interview last week, “is we pay for treatment of illness but we don’t pay for the advancement of health.”

That idea is at the heart of the state’s effort over the past two decades to revamp its system for delivering health care to the neediest. The strategy has included a shift to managed care, meshing mental health services with physical care and creating programs specifically to coordinate an array of services so patients don’t have to hunt them down one at a time.

More recently, the state has launched several pilot projects designed to make people healthier overall rather than just treat the pain or discomfort of chronic illness. Taxpayers foot the bill for the care of about a third of all Californians through Medi-Cal, the state’s version of the federal Medicaid program for the poor, spending tens of billions of dollars annually on treatment of chronic conditions.

A five-year, $1.5 billion Whole Person Care initiative, begun in 2016, aims to heal heavy users of medical services and save the state money by keeping them out of expensive emergency rooms and hospitals.

And a pilot program was created last year to use food as medicine — to try to reverse chronic illnesses such as congestive heart failure — in projects across seven counties. Officially launched last month, it’s modeled on a project in Philadelphia that showed a roughly one-third reduction in patient costs.

These two state efforts include:

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The Health Trust Makes Health Partnership Grants totaling over $800,000

For Immediate Release: June 28, 2018
The Health Trust Contact: Maria Garcia, or (408) 513-8729

San Jose, CA – On June 27, 2018, The Health Trust Board of Trustees approved four Health Partnership grants totaling $806,498 to support The Health Trust’s mission of building health equity in Silicon Valley. Specifically, the awarded grants will combat older adult social isolation, support the work of the Long Term Services & Support (LTSS) Integration Committee, advance the careers of public health professionals, and increase access to behavioral health services for undeserved youth.

Breakdown of Grants

San Jose Parks Foundation
Research shows that many older adults start facing social isolation and lack of purpose after they retire from work, their kids grow up, and as they start losing friends and loved ones. Research also shows that socially isolated seniors are more likely to experience chronic stress and depression, including conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. In an effort to provide support and services to older adults and to some of our most vulnerable youth, over the next 12 months and through a $100,000 grant, the San Jose Parks Foundation, in partnership with the Office of the Mayor and Somos Mayfair plan to develop an intergenerational programming blueprint, with the goal of increasing the number of older adults engaged and retained in volunteerism across the city of San Jose by connecting them to youth serving organizations.                                     

Public Health Institute
Through the support of a $555,998 grant, the Public Health Institute will provide individuals the opportunity to advance their professional careers in the field of public health.

Working Partnerships USA
Older adults and adults with functional limitations who require Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) services are some of our county’s most vulnerable populations. In an effort to provide them the opportunity to age in place, over the next 12 months and through a $75,500 grant, Working Partnerships USA plans to support the work of the Long Term Services & Support (LTSS) Integration Committee. This grant is intended to ensure that the Committee drives key projects, policy, and system changes that will specifically impact older adults and adults with functional limitations, referred to as the LTSS population.

Youth Alliance
During FY17, Youth Alliance engaged in an assessment to understand the health needs of the community and how they could play a role in supporting those community health needs. Building off of the learnings from Year 1, in Year 2, Youth Alliance plans to increase the number of underserved youth accessing behavioral health services. Over the next 12 months and through a $75,000 grant, Youth Alliance plans to contract out with third party payer, Anthem Blue Cross to serve as one of the only health providers of youth specialty behavioral health services. Through this project, Youth Alliance will have the opportunity to diversify its revenue funding stream, and provide a critical health service to vulnerable youth and families in N. San Benito County.

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About The Health Trust
The Health Trust is an operating foundation founded in 1996. Our mission is to build health equity in Silicon Valley. We believe everyone should be afforded the opportunity to be healthy – especially the most vulnerable. To that end, we provide direct services, fund community-based organizations whose work aligns with our mission, and advocate for policies and initiatives that help advance our mission. For more information, visit

Health Trust’s Cristo Rey Students Graduate High School

Since 2014, The Health Trust has partnered with Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School’s Corporate Work Study Program. As a results, we’ve had at least four bright and talented students working with us each year.

We are proud to announce that on June 9, 2018, five of our former and current students participated in Cristo Rey San Jose High Schoo’ls inaugural graduation.

Congratulations Alana, Alexa, Adrian, Diego, and Magda!

Below is each student’s college commitment.
Alana  – Cal State Stanislaus
Alexa – Cal Berkeley
Adrian – Saint Mary’s College
Diego – Saint Mary’s College
Magda – San Jose State

Silicon Valley Business Journal: Early experiences with HIV patients helped shape Dr. Lawrence McGlynn’s medical career

By  | June 4, 2018

Editor’s note: This is a profile of one of our eight Excellence in Healthcare winners, who will be honored at a luncheon on Thursday, June 7, at the Silicon Valley Capital Club.

Unless you were there, it’s hard to imagine how scary the early days of the HIV epidemic were for young gay men in San Francisco. An infectious disease that didn’t yet have a name was spreading across the city. Doctors speculated it might be an aggressive new form of cancer.

“I started seeing people in San Francisco who were my age, walking with canes, thin, sick, who had lost a lot of weight and were dying,” said Stanford University clinical professor Larry McGlynn. “Garage sales were all over the place. You’d see young men’s clothing and records, representative of a life that was just starting out. You knew people were dying.”

Doctors were studying the disease, but had not yet developed medication to manage its symptoms. Getting an HIV diagnosis seemed like a death sentence. One of McGlynn’s childhood friends was diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s and committed suicide.

Those early experiences shaped McGlynn’s career. Today, he’s one of a small handful of psychiatrists in Silicon Valley who specialize in treating the mental health of patients with HIV and people who use crystal meth.

His days start early and end late.

McGlynn, 57, splits his week between two clinics — Stanford’s Positive Care Clinic in Palo Alto, and PACE, a public health clinic at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose. He estimates he sees somewhere between 10 and 15 patients per day, for sessions that last up to an hour each. On top of that, he also teaches at Stanford.

Continue reading the article at Silicon Valley Business Journal. 

Physicians News Network: Health Trust in SC County Joins California “Food Is Medicine” Pilot Program

Physicians News Network | May 21, 2018

The​ ​Health Trust ​in Santa Clara County and five other nonprofit organizations throughout California are participating in a new “Food Is Medicine” state pilot, a medically tailored meal service with the goal of reducing overall medical costs caused by patients not getting the necessary nutrition.

Project Angel Food launched the three-year, $6 million pilot program to prove medically tailored meals can reduce healthcare costs for Medi-Cal recipients with congestive heart failure (CHF) .

It is estimated that 1 in 8 Americans (42 million) are insecure of the foods they eat and do not eat enough nutrients to sustain a healthy and active lifestyle. Meanwhile, the rate of chronic disease caused by poor nutrition, such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, hepatitis, stroke, cancer, asthma, diabetes and arthritis, is on the rise.

“The purpose of this groundbreaking pilot is to prove our medically tailored meals and medical nutrition intervention can reduce hospital admission rates and healthcare costs within a 12-week period,” according to the announcement. Participants in the pilot will receive 100% daily nutrition, which includes breakfast and two entrees, for three months. They will also be provided with intensive medical nutrition therapy including two in-home visits by a registered dietitian and two follow-up telephone calls.

 This is the first time any state has funded a pilot of this kind. Richard Ayoub, executive director of Project Angel Food, said in a statement: “This new statewide program will usher in a new era for Project Angel Food. At the end of the program, there will be a published finding definitively proving our nutritious meals reduce healthcare costs.”

Published research into a similar project in Philadelphia that delivers three meals and one snack per day every week to low-income people who are in danger of malnutrition during a serious illness showed the meals had an impact on patient quality of life — and also major reductions in hospital costs, catching the attention of politicians in California, according to the Huffington Post. With high rates of food insecurity, chronic illness and Medicaid enrollment, California was looking for a way to bring down the overall costs of Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, with efforts that have a proven return on investment.

With a significant number of Californians living well below the federal poverty level, those undergoing treatment for breast cancer are often left to choose between their next meal or keeping up with their quickly-accumulating medical bills. They may also forgo healthier meals, opting instead for cheaper canned foods that provide little in the form of nutrition.

“We believe food is medicine and that this food will keep people out of the hospital, thus saving Medi-Cal hundred of thousands, if not millions, of dollars,” said Ayoub.

Read the original Physicians News Network article here.

Livestrong: California doctors are prescribing food to sick people, and here’s why it’s working

By: Leah Groth  | May 15, 2018

The program, launched on Friday by the California Food Is Medicine Coalition alongside Senator Ben Allen (D) and assembly members Blanca Rubio (D) and Richard Bloom (D), will deliver free, custom-prescribed meals to individuals insured by Medicaid and suffering from congestive heart failure (a chronic heart condition that requires strict dietary adherence).

“We provide meals to people who are critically ill and we have seen results where you actually bring down healthcare costs because they stay out of the hospital longer, they adhere to their medication and they don’t go to the emergency room as often,” explains Richard Ayoub, executive director of Project Angel Food, one of the non-profit organizations participating in the new program.

According to Ayoub, Project Angel Food and the other five organizations involved in California’s new pilot program — Ceres Community Project, Project Open Hand, Mama’s Kitchen, Health Trust and Food for Thought — have been delivering meals to sick people for years. Now, their services will be reimbursed through Medicaid.

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