Building on a Foundation of Service

Others simply saw a building, but Michaell Rose saw a remarkable community resource

Michaell Rose wanted one of Hoag’s buildings to create a nonprofit center.

A 30,000-square-foot building on Placentia Avenue across from Hoag Hospital Newport Beach already housed the Hoag Mental Health Center and SOS Children & Family Health Center, which provides safety net services to homeless and low-income populations, along with Hoag’s Pastoral Care – the “trifecta” of mind, body and spirit. Rose said her mind reeled from the possibilities of addressing the vast and varied needs of the community by expanding on that foundation, both figuratively and literally.

So two years ago, Rose, director of Community Health Programs at Hoag, proposed the Center for Healthy Living, a comprehensive space that would house multiple nonprofit health care and social services agencies all under one roof. It would be innovative, collaborative and holistic; a unique new model to address health care and the many social determinants of health faced by a struggling population.

Hoag President and CEO Robert T. Braithwaite loved the idea right away. “I came back and told the team: We had the support of executive leadership and we got the building!” Rose recalled.

Thanks to the vision of Hoag’s leadership and funding through the Hoag Community Benefit Program, community philanthropic dollars and county grants, the newly remodeled Center opened with more than 15 agencies operating in concert with each other.

“Our centralized case management and care navigation team will help connect people with the correct resources no matter which agency they initially contact,” said Rocio Valencia Vega. Rocio is the program manager for Hoag’s Mental Health Center which is housed in the Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living.

People who rely on nonprofit agencies for help in one area tend to have equally urgent needs in another. By bringing everything from legal services to exercise all under one roof – and by connecting people with case managers who can coordinate care throughout the Center – Rose hopes to meld together holistic services from a dauntingly fractured system.

The Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living allows like-minded nonprofits to create satellite offices to offer services in the pockets of poverty that exist within the costal communities.

“It’s very difficult for nonprofits to come into our area because rent is cost prohibitive,” Rose said.

During the Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living grand opening, community members and visitors caught a glimpse of how the synergy between agencies would work.

This past winter, VSP Vision Care, which provides eye care globally, worked with the Raise Foundation to offer free eye exams and glasses through its international mobile eye clinic at the center. Kim Rankin, mobile clinics operations manager of VSP, said she was particularly impressed.

“One young mom became extremely upset when her son was diagnosed with cataracts,” Rankin said. “She didn’t have any health care for her son. One of the people we were working with from Raise Foundation said, ‘Don’t worry, we can get you set up with an appointment.’”

The employee escorted the family inside the Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living. They emerged 45 minutes later, newly enrolled in MediCal.

“That one conversation snowballed into this mother getting health coverage for herself and her son that she didn’t think she was qualified for,” Rankin said. “It was just so heartwarming to see all the services that were available right there.”