By Franco Reyna, Program Manager – NKF Serving Southern California and Nevada
Kidney disease connects many communities. It connects the public at large to raise awareness about the importance of kidneys and kidney health, individuals who are at risk for the disease, people living with kidney disease (common and rare types), their family members, caregivers, and kidney donors as well as health professionals who provide medical care and support to people with kidney disease. In Los Angeles (LA) County, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) of Southern California is driving kidney health action through partnerships with local public health, clinical, and other stakeholders.
Heart disease and stroke are the two of the leading causes of death in Los Angeles County. Social determinants of health including language, housing, food insecurity also significantly impact the county, which is one of the largest (more than 11 million people), and most diverse (with more than 200 languages spoken) counties in the United States. In response to the health needs of LA county residents, the NKF collaborates with community partners and key health stakeholders to focus on chronic disease prevention efforts targeting individuals most at risk, in particular African Americans and Hispanics residents of Los Angeles.
An individual’s health, longevity and well-being are connected to the places they live, learn, work, and play. The NKF of Southern California has established ongoing relationships with non-traditional health partners, such as the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles, in order to reach communities where they are. The LA County Mexican consulate’s health initiative, Ventanilla de Salud (health window), is a partnership between the country’s consulates across the U. S., local health entities, and community-based groups. The NKF joined the initiative based on the shared interest of providing health information and resources to individuals who use the consulate’s services as well as the general public.
For the past several years, NKF has participated in the initiative’s resource events held the first Monday of each month as well as community health events. This partnership has supported NKF’s efforts to provide kidney health education through our Your Kidney and You (YKY) Program, in which trained NKF volunteers educate others in their communities about kidneys, risk factors for kidney disease, and what can be done to protect kidneys. Also, in partnership with the consulate, NKF Serving Southern California provides health screenings, educational information and access to a clinician for consultation, through our Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP) Healthy Program. We are pleased to collaborate with the Mexican Consulate to bring both YKY and KEEP programs as well as education materials in both English and Spanish to raise awareness among this diverse community.
The NKF of Southern California has also established key partnerships with various health care providers and systems serving LA County’s most medically underserved residents, such as Proyecto del Barrio, a community health center providing health and human services to mostly low-income residents of the San Fernando Valley area. Our partnership with the clinic began in the Summer of 2018, by building a relationship with its health education and community engagement staff. Today, on average for each education session, NKF engages 20-25 patients of the clinic to provide education on chronic disease prevention and management of diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol and other cardiovascular conditions as well as kidney disease. Through this partnership, NKF is not only able to reach patients at risk for kidney disease but the members of the community by participating in partnering on Proyecto del Barrio’s community health events.
We are grateful for our partnerships with organizations, such as the Mexican Consulate and Proyecto del Barrio Health Center that are committed to creating thriving and health communities. The NKF Serving Southern California aims to build partnerships across Los Angeles county with academic institutions, health systems, community-organizations, corporations and residents of the community to ensure that all residents have the opportunities and resources needed for optimal kidney health and well-being.