Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center’s Bridge Program has become a model for compassionate care, proving that collaborative efforts make a difference.
In the bustling city of Los Angeles, the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center has established itself as a beacon of hope, providing vital support to individuals battling addiction and homelessness.
With oversight by Matthew Pierce Smith, MD, regional chief of emergency medicine for the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, LAMC has become a regional leader in implementing the Bridge Program, a nationwide initiative of the Public Health Institute. The mission of Bridge is to bridge emergency care and community health to create an integrated system that improves health and equity.
"Our goal is to deliver compassionate care and save lives through collaborative efforts," said Dr. Smith.
From the committed emergency department staff to the compassionate case managers and social workers, each person plays a crucial role in providing comprehensive care. The success of LAMC's program in supporting patients and members is a testament to the entire team's dedication, the integration of community clinic staff from Wesley Health Centers into the emergency department, and the important partnerships that were established. Through partnerships with the Public Health Institute and Wesley Health Centers, LAMC pools both internal and external resources to make a greater impact in providing medical services primarily for adults who are unhoused and have low incomes.
Since the pilot started, LAMC's emergency department has helped more than 2,300 individuals struggling with substance abuse issues. One key figure in this transformative program is Nicole Johnson-Farley, a navigator lead for Wesley Health Centers. With her extensive experience, Johnson-Farley, along with her team of 2 navigators, focuses on connecting people who are unhoused with essential primary care, mental health services, and housing. This ultimately reduces their reliance on LAMC's emergency department.
Johnson-Farley said, "At LAMC, we have the advantage of offering additional resources, such as medication-assisted treatment, and combining medications with counseling and behavioral therapies. Kaiser Permanente’s partnership with Wesley Health Centers enables us to easily connect individuals in need with nearby clinics and programs."
The Wesley Health Center care team ensures that people seeking help for substance use disorders receive the necessary support. Collaborating with LAMC's emergency department staff, it addresses addiction issues while providing access to primary care services, case management, HIV services, and more.
"Kaiser Permanente’s collaboration with Wesley Health Center, an expert community partner, through the Bridge Program, guarantees that individuals seeking behavioral and addiction resources receive the utmost attention and care they deserve,” said Mario Ceballos, Kaiser Permanente community health manager for LAMC. “This partnership enhances LAMC as a stronger and better care delivery system."
The unwavering commitment of Dr. Smith, Johnson-Farley, and Ceballos inspires others and demonstrates the transformative power of kindness and compassion in making a meaningful difference in people's lives by having an integrated system of care with a trusted community partner.
Learn more about mental health and addiction care at Kaiser Permanente.