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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

San Ysidro Health Leader On Organization’s Response To Pandemic

 March 23, 2021 at 10:17 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The COVID pandemic has created a number of unsung heroes from the person who delivers groceries to your door, to the mail carriers and sanitation workers who work every day to keep the wheels of society turning. And of course, first and foremost, healthcare workers, especially those in the hardest hit areas of our country. A healthcare leader from the South Bay is now receiving recognition for her work on ML Goza of San Ysidro health has dealt with some of the worst of the pandemic and she's among three women honored by the mana de San Diego organization during women's history month. Joining me is on a GOSA. She is vice president of external affairs for San Ysidro health and Ana. Congratulations. Speaker 2: 00:46 Thank you. Thank you very much, but I don't really feel like this is an award solely for me. It really is an honor of all of our frontline workers that have been dedicated this entire year to not only taking care of the lives of their close ones, but really the lives of our communities that have been hardest hit by this terrible, terrible disease. Speaker 1: 01:06 So when the number of COVID cases started to rise at San Ysidro health, how did your organization respond? Speaker 2: 01:13 We responded right away. I still remember vividly, uh, we call it Friday the 13th, March 13th, when we, as everyone else got the call to action, which was to shut down to pivot and to start more than anything stopping the spread, no one knew what was going on. All we knew was there was this mysterious virus, um, that was coming and causing a lot of just illness and catastrophic illness at times. And so we, as an executive team came in on Sunday right after, and we had a look at what we were going to do with our operations. So we had a stop and put a pause on our dental care and pivot right away to tele-health. And since then, we've been very busy working through our tele-health line, but also opening back up for in-clinic visits. And as a result, uh, we've seen an increase in, in treatment. However, what we have done is offered a lot of support, not just in healthcare Marine, but we also converted some of our clinic sites into food distribution sites, because we saw firsthand what it means not to have food on your table for your children, not to be able to make a rent payment, uh, not to be able to even provide basic necessities such as food and clothes for children. And so we just continued to rise to the challenge and help as many families as we could Speaker 1: 02:43 Tell us about the choices that some of your patients had to make between feeding the family or risking infection. Speaker 2: 02:50 So what we've found is in many of the families where we operate, where we serve, we were working really with the essential workforce. So many days we were speak to our doctors in the clinics, and they were still treating people who were riding the trolleys to go to work because as they spoke to their patients, especially many who are high risk of, of dying really of infection, they said, well, if I don't work, I can't provide food for my children. And so they took that daily risk of working as grocery workers, janitorial healthcare, many who weren't able to work from home. And what happened was many of our families also live in multi-generational overcrowded housing because the working families that we have as our patients, our costs birdie with the cost of housing here in San Diego. And so when they had to decide if they were going to either be homeless or be hungry, many of them chose to be hungry, to be able to live and provide not just for their children, but we're working with many Latinas are the sandwich generation. Those that are caring, not just for children, but also their parents. And so these are seniors that also have had to need the care that we provide as well through our program for all inclusive care for the elderly. So for us, we felt we had so much to really work for throughout this pandemic, not just the immediate prevention of catching COVID, but for those families that were infected with it, how are we able to provide the care for the seniors, the infected person, and also the children. Speaker 1: 04:33 Are you anticipating in terms of longer term needs of the community in recovering from this pandemic, Speaker 2: 04:40 There's going to be a great need for a lot of mental health services. We have been working closely with our school districts and they've informed us that they are working with children that have lost grandparents because of this pandemic and parents too. And there hasn't been any kind of intervention there to help the children right now, when we hear about what the biggest need is for children so far, what we know is definitely educational needs. What we've found is many of the families were already experiencing the digital divide and many are having a really hard time accessing internet. But if you dig deep, what we have found more than anything is the need for mental health and the need to be able to grieve like a child and to be able to understand what it means to go hungry and to really work with this generation of children that have been hit the hardest by this pandemic, because they're going to deal with scars that are going to last them for a long time to understand why they were without resources while they were watching television and saw their children with resources. How do you reconcile that? And so we have a lot of children living with trauma from this experience and many external factors impact their lives that they couldn't control. Speaker 1: 06:02 You see anything positive coming out of this long, terrible experience for San Ysidro health and the community? Speaker 2: 06:09 Absolutely. I am just amazed by our providers of care. I am so inspired by our doctors, our nurses, our behavioral health specialists, or therapists or dentists. They courageously went into work every single day to rise to the challenge right now and seeing now vaccination efforts to take place. I recall going into our alcoholic, a new clinic that we were able to, uh, have ready to go by the end of last year. And I encountered a patient, an elderly patient who said that the only reason she came into the clinic was because during her tele-health visit for her chronic illness, the doctor told her I can't go to sleep at night, knowing that you haven't been vaccinated. And she said, I have not gone out for anything, but I love my doctor. I trust my doctor. And so I called my daughter to come and get me out of the house. Come get my first dose. And I'll be back for my second. But I do not like being out of my house. Speaker 1: 07:16 Tell us about this honor from monitor San Diego organization. What does it mean? Speaker 2: 07:21 None of the San Diego is extremely important right now, more than ever right now, Latinos face historic inequities wages have gone down right now, 42 cents for every dollar. What mill makes as what Latinos bring home as well as their life expectancy has gone down 1.9 years because of this pandemic, we need to intervene and do mana the San Diego. We're preparing that next generation of leaders to break this cycle of poverty and to turn these trends upward, we encouraged all young girls to run for office, to be at the policy-making table and to work hard, to get these trends upward. Ana, thank you so much for speaking with us. Thank you, Marine. And thank you mana to San Diego for this great honor and platform to talk about all of our work together. Speaker 3: 08:14 [inaudible].

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A health care leader from the South Bay is now receiving recognition for her work. Ana Melgoza of San Ysidro Health has helped to lead the organization through some of the worst of the pandemic - and she’s among three women honored by the MANA de San Diego organization during Women’s History Month.
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