In 2006, California Pacific Medical Center launched the HealthFirst program at its Mission Bernal Campus (formerly St. Luke's) in the heart of the Mission District. The first patient was enrolled in the pilot program in January 2007. CPMC developed HealthFirst in response to the scarcity of primary care physicians, the increasing costs of medical care and the rising number and proportion of patients with chronic illnesses.
HealthFirst’s primary goal is to find a more cost-effective way to support patients with chronic illnesses. The program is an innovative healthcare model in which non-physicians are deployed to help manage stable, but chronically ill patients in partnership with their primary care provider. Community health workers and certified health educators serve as key components of the team-based model, offering access to prevention, outreach and education services.
Since CPMC is considered one of San Francisco’s “safety-net” hospitals, our community health workers and certified health educators often provide care for the underinsured and underserved communities in the South-of-Market, Mission, Bayview and Hunter’s Point neighborhoods.
HealthFirst Location and Hours
1580 Valencia Street, Suite 602, San Francisco, CA 94110
Regular Hours — 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, by appointment only
Phone — (415) 641-2160
Fax — (415) 865-4159
Program Services Offered
- Prevention — By offering services which are culturally and financially accessible, we encourage the community to seek help before it becomes an emergency situation. This helps patients avoid expensive treatment in the Emergency Department.
- Education — By providing tailored education in nutrition, physical activity and taking medications correctly, our emphasis is on teaching self-management of chronic diseases.
- Referrals — HealthFirst accepts referrals from primary care physicians at Mission Bernal Health Care Center. We are working to expand our patient base by partnering with other community-based primary care physicians in managing high-risk, chronically ill and underinsured patients.
We use a multidisciplinary team-based approach to managing chronic illness. Our innovative model has a community health worker as the core of the team who works alongside a physician, nurse educator, respiratory therapist, social worker and program manager. While these professionals are experts about diseases, it’s the patient who is an expert about his or her own life. With the HealthFirst program, this partnership is crucial to successfully managing chronic illness. Patients set their own goals and the clinical professionals help them make informed choices. This way, patients are more motivated, gain a better understanding of their illness and have the confidence to adopt new, healthier behaviors.
Team members include:
- Desiree Arretz, M.D., Medical Director
- Lisa McCormick, Nurse Practitioner, Certified Diabetes Educator
- Cynthia Perez-Vaughan, Community Health Worker
- Carina Carrasco, Community Health Worker
- Arturo Flores, Community Health Worker
- Julie McKown, Respiratory Therapist, Certified Asthma Educator
- Maria Vicente-Puletti, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Articles Published by Our Team
- Otero-Sabogal R, Arretz D, Siebold S, Hallen E, Lee R, Ketchel A, Li J, Newman J (2010)."Physician-community health worker partnering to support diabetes self-management in primary care." Quality in Primary Care 18(6): 363-372.
- Otero-Sabogal R, Arretz D, Ngo V, McKown J, Li J, Lee R, Newman J (2008). "Positive Impact of a Self-Management Program on Improving Asthma Symptoms among Inner-City Children: St. Luke's HealthFirst Center for Education and Prevention."
- California Association for Healthcare Quality Journal 32(3): 16-29.