He is my brother. He inspires me daily by his example. Here are some things he has accomplished, and these are just a few ways he has made his life’s work to help others…
Kaiser Permanente Program Provides Hope and Resources to Homeless Patients
By Michael Carter
Homeless patients are getting the help they need to rebuild their lives thanks to a unique program at Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Medical Center. Led by staff member Jonathan Lopez, the Homeless
Navigator Pilot Program aims to find shelter and other vital community services for homeless patients who seek care in their emergency department.
The program is the first of its kind for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California. This unique program addresses the needs of homeless patients by using a coordinated approach that involves a dedicated team of staff and community resource providers. The team consists of physicians, nurses, social workers, case manager, administrators, and the Homeless Navigator.
Since its inception in April, 2012, the program has placed more than 576 homeless patients into shelters, transitional housing, permanent housing, and substance abuse treatment programs. That’s a dramatic increase from 2011, when just 25 homeless patients were placed in shelters during the entire year.
“We offer an atmosphere of hope and caring to our homeless clients and we are making a significant difference.” ~Jonathan Lopez
The program has been so successful in ending homelessness for Kaiser Permanente patients that it has become a new model of care for this vulnerable population. During the past year, the program has received many accolades, including the 2013 Community Impact Partner of the Year Award from Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission and the Community Partnership Award from The Salvation Army in March 2013.
“Kaiser Permanente is not only a leading provider in health care, but now they are leading the way in health and human services through their Homeless Navigator Program,” said Ken Craft, president and chief operating officer for Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission. The Mission is a non-profit agency serving thousands of men, women, children and their families in the San Fernando Valley.
“Through the leadership of Mr. Lopez, homeless people who come to the hospital are treated with dignity and respect and they are connected to community resources. The program links the homeless with service providers that assist them with accessing case management and wrap around resources. ,This unique program has been a catalyst in transforming the landscape of homeless service providers. Now, thanks to Kaiser Permanente and the San Fernando Valley Homeless Service Providers we are all working together to assist the most vulnerable in our society,” added Craft.
Here’s how the program works:
Lopez serves as a liaison between Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Medical Center and nonprofit community partners that offer an array of services, including shelter, food, clothing, job assistance and substance abuse treatment. That’s in addition to permanent housing which is the main component to ending homelessness.
Working with emergency medicine physicians, nurses, case managers, social workers, and deputy administrators Lopez connects homeless patients with the services they need to end their homelessness.
Tom Gray, 46, credits the Homeless Navigator Pilot Program with saving his life. Addicted to crystal methamphetamine, he lost his home and job and had been living on the streets for many years. He came to the attention of homeless team after seeking emergency treatment for an abscess on his leg.
With the team’s support, Gray is now rebuilding his life. He is living at the Cabrito House, a sober living home for men overcoming alcohol addiction. He is also working as a sales representative for a heating and air conditioning company in Canoga Park, where he has been the sales leader for three out of 11 months. In his spare time, Gray gives motivational speeches to patients at the Tarzana Treatment Center, a behavioral health care organization that provides substance abuse and mental health treatment to adults and teens.
“Without this Homeless Navigator Program, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. I would have gone back to the streets,” said Gray. “It’s a great program.” The homeless navigator team is committed to helping more people like Gray.
Last summer, Lopez expanded his scope of responsibilities, assisting homeless patients that had not entered the emergency department and consulted with dozens of homeless clients monthly after they were discharged from the ER. As the Homeless Navigator, Lopez develops community partnerships, through which Kaiser Permanente’s NavigationTeam is able to arrange for transportation and placement in local shelters, transitional housing and substance abuse treatment programs, when needed.
The goal of the Homeless Service Provider partnerships is to facilitate access to a continuum of care and coordinated services enabling them to identify long-term solutions to improve homeless clients’ living conditions and ultimately end their state of homelessness through permanent housing. Community Partners include the Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, House of Hope, LA Family Housing, Columbus and Corbin House, San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission in North Hollywood, the Bell Access Center, Genesis House and The Lighthouse, a shelter for women and children in Ventura County.
In addition the Homeless Navigator Pilot Program works closely with Tarzana Treatment Center, Northeast Valley Health Corporation, and the San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center. The newest community partners include the Frequent User System Engagement System (F.U.S.E) and SSG Alliance – Project 40.
Paul Read, president of the Cabrito Foundation, which oversees the operations of the Cabrito House, a sober living house for recovering alcoholic men, praised Lopez’ hands-on role in assisting homeless individuals.
“It is a great privilege to work with someone as dedicated as Mr. Lopez. He works tirelessly to find people just the right place that will give them the best chance to regain their status in the community,” said Read. “We are fortunate to be a part of his team.”
The Homeless Navigator Pilot Program benefits not only homeless patients but the community partners as well.
For the past 18 months, Kaiser Permanente employees have volunteered to prepare and serve dinner at L.A. Family Housing, The Lighthouse, and the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission. The staff also helped paint the library at The Salvation Army and partnered with the agency on several events. Joint activities include The United Way 5K Walk to End Homelessness, the 2013 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count and tuberculosis screening for residents of the organization’s residential substance abuse treatment program.
“We’re developing an interactive, supportive resource-sharing partnership with our homeless service providers,” said Lopez. “Our goal is to provide the highest quality of care for our homeless neighbors and to be the best community partner possible.”
*posted with permission from Kaiser Permanente, Woodland Hills
“Just wanted to congratulate you again for the Hope of the Valley award Saturday night. Well deserved and truly a labor a love. Where would we all be without the support of people like yourself and your ‘friends’ when things go bump in the night and you feel totally helpless, scared and hopeless….. “
“Thanking you from the bottom of all our hearts…. Kaiser family & framily : )”
Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission 2014 CATALYST AWARD:
Presented to Jonathan Lopez,
“Creating Lasting Sustainable Change for Those Who Need It the Most”
In 2015, Jonathan begins a new path on his journey as the V.P. of Development for Hope of the Valley. With his partners and community connections, he will lead the way in establishing a new facility that will offer transitional care for homeless and needy people when they are discharged from the hospital and have nowhere else to turn.
In addition to all that he does for the community at large, John is always there for me. He actively supports his own family and mine in everything we do and he leads our family with great pride and undoubted unconditional love. Joyful, joyous, caring, sensitive, funny, humble, celebrated and beloved, he is the best friend to have and of course, an amazing person to have as my brother!
Jonathan has been honored with many awards for his service and commitment to helping others. I am quite proud of him for that. My entire family is immensely proud of all of his and my sister-in-law, Jennifer Lyons Lopez’ work as they both devote their life’s passion to helping others. By posting this, I not only commend them for their actions, but it is my hope to inspire you to do something. Every little bit helps.
I wrote this post and shared the articles above for the simple joy and pride it brings me. I am not affiliated in any way with any of the organizations mentioned above, other than in connection to my family members who serve as employees or as volunteers.