Are there strategies to help my baby sleep better? How can I calmly handle the emotions of my children? Why is it important for my children to brush their teeth regularly?
These and dozens of other questions were addressed by local pediatricians during a recent series of community workshops in neighborhoods across San Diego County. More than 300 families attended the five-month series of “Community Doc Talks,” a health-education program for low-resource families with children five years old and younger. The series was sponsored by Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan and Rady Children’s Hospital, a national leader in pediatric health care based in San Diego.
“Our goal was to give local families the opportunity to meet and talk with doctors in their own communities, outside the walls of a medical clinic, as a strategy to help reduce health disparities and advance health equity,” said Patricia Brown, community engagement manager for Blue Shield Promise in San Diego. “Children were included in the program to become more comfortable with physicians and healthcare teams. We believe this can help diminish potential barriers to accessing medical and dental care.”
Workshops covered nutrition, sleep, health, physical activity, conflict, bonding, and parental support. According to Brown, participants’ enthusiasm was high with over 95% of families rating the Doc Talks as extremely helpful or very helpful.
“The Doc Talk series demonstrated how to create strong engagement among family audiences in our Medi-Cal communities with medical providers, which helps overcome barriers for them to seek care,” said Brown. “Our audiences have learned the positive experiences and healthy outcomes that can result from timely visits with a doctor.”
Here’s what a few participants said in post-workshop surveys:
- “I’m going to pay more attention to medical appointments and brush their teeth more frequently.”
- “I will apply this information for my future baby to minimize risk of SIDS.”
- “I will talk to my child about his feelings and talk about my feelings.”
- “Thank you for making me feel I am not alone. “
Blue Shield Promise collaborated with local community organizations, who hosted dozens of events as part of the series. Participating San Diego nonprofit groups included Head Start and Early Head Start, MAAC, San Diego City Libraries, Neighborhood House, Community Housing Works, The YMCA of San Diego County, and UC San Diego Division of Academic General Pediatrics.