Community jewels: Director Maria Peacock leads GEM and Welcome Baby programs
Los Angeles County, home to ten million residents, includes cities with some of the richest and poorest communities in the nation. Many times situated side by side, these communities experience striking differences in wealth, opportunity and health. A critical element to prevent these inequities is improved access to the resources people need to be healthy. Fortunately, Emanate Health has a longstanding commitment of reaching out to the community, bridging the gap in access.
Maria Peacock, Emanate Health director of community benefit, says outreach is part of the Emanate Health culture: “Our history is one of community building, community leadership, and community maternal and child involvement. If a community is a system of relationships for which people care for and about each other, then we all need to connect.”
Get Enrollment Moving (GEM)
Connecting is at the heart of GEM, a nonprofit, community-based resource funded by the LA County Department of Public Health. Under Maria’s direction, GEM’s certified counselors are devoted to connecting eligible men, women and children to health insurance, including Medi-Cal, Covered California and other public insurance programs. For those already enrolled but experiencing difficulties navigating the system, GEM provides advocacy and problem-solving services.
At Emanate Health, the staff of four GEM counselors has succeeded in getting people insured; now, the goal is to keep them insured. Counselors follow enrollees for twelve months, first confirming their enrollment, then checking to see if they are using the services and retaining the insurance. Sometimes there are challenges to resolve, like the one for Joseph M.: Hearing a diagnosis of cancer is never easy, but for Joseph M. and his wife, knowing the diagnosis was for their son, it was devastating. Both parents stopped working in order to care for him; their stress mounted, leading Mr. M. to go to the hospital’s emergency department. After receiving the hospital bill from the emergency visit and reaching out to the Medi-Cal office without resolution, Mr. M. sought assistance through GEM. Feeling grateful for their help, he says, “Having a child with cancer and dealing with the complex health insurance system is stressful. Our family is very thankful to the GEM staff for their tireless advocacy in a compassionate, determined and persistent manner.”
Welcome Baby, another Emanate Health community benefit program in partnership with First 5 LA’s countywide initiative, is a home visitation program designed to strengthen families and is offered at no cost to pregnant and postpartum women giving birth at a participating hospital. Queen of the Valley Hospital is the only hospital in the San Gabriel Valley to offer the program. Welcome Baby provides one-on-one visits in the home, at the hospital or by phone. A registered nurse, parent coach and hospital liaison provide personalized and valuable support to both mother and infant.
The program promotes overall wellness, increases breastfeeding rates, ensures newborns have health care coverage, assists new parents in providing a safe and nurturing home environment, and links families to community resources.
Get Enrollment Moving and Welcome Baby reflect Emanate Health’s commitment to care for the underserved and Maria Peacock’s determination. “I realized I have a calling, which is not to accept the unacceptable,” Maria explains. “People deserve to be treated with dignity and have access to care.”
“Our history is one of community building, community leadership, and community maternal and child involvement. If a community is a system of relationships for which people care for and about each other, then we all need to connect.” – Maria Peacock, Emanate Health director of community benefit
“Our family is very thankful to the GEM staff for their tireless advocacy in a compassionate, determined and persistent manner.” – Joseph M., GEM program participant