18 Months and Counting: The Center for Healthy Living Thrives

Center focuses on increasing agency cross-over and referrals

The concept was as simple as it was radical: Place multiple nonprofit health care and social services agencies all under one roof, and build a community around them. These agencies would work together, creating a network of care for the mind, body and spirit in the midst of a neighborhood that has historically been underserved.

Michaell Rose, director of Community Health Programs at Hoag, proposed opening this “upstream” approach to health three years ago in a building on Placentia Avenue, that already housed three social services organizations, including the Hoag Mental Health Center and Hoag’s Pastoral Care. The location places the Center in a community with the third highest poverty rate in the county.

This past summer, the Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living celebrated its first anniversary with 35 partner organizations that have made more than 41,000 community connections. Agencies regularly refer clients among themselves for increased access to health, mental health, legal, fitness and spiritual care.

This new model for addressing the community’s vast and varied needs has exceeded expectations.

“It’s been going beautifully and has been well-received by the community,” Rose says. “We still have more work to do, and we are excited to continue this discovery and growth process.”

Rose who is completing her doctorate in Public Health credits Hoag and philanthropists such as Melinda Hoag Smith for having the vision and dedication to try something new. This has been an experiment in empowering the community to take control of their own health and of the social determinants that affect health.

“Hoag has long understood that a person’s health is determined by more than just their physical well-being,” Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian President and CEO Robert Braithwaite says. “If there are significant stressors in someone’s life, or if they suffer from mental illness, their health will suffer as well. The Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living provides the resources to enable prevention.”

While the first year had been dedicated to bringing agencies onboard and connecting them with the community, this coming year the Center will focus on increasing agency cross-over and referrals. “We are now adding layers to the work, in a very purposeful and mindful way,” Rose says. “To be able to grow this Center is an opportunity like no other. It’s such a privilege. We’re constantly learning.”

Current Services & Partner Agencies


  • 211
  • Alzheimer’s OC
  • Be the Change Yoga
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • CHOC – PODER program
  • Clinic in the Park
  • Costa Mesa Family Resource Center
  • Council on Aging OC
  • Crime Survivors
  • Help Me Grow OC
  • Hoag’s Health Ministries
  • Hoag’s Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center
  • Hoag’s Mental Health Center
  • Latino Health Access
  • National Alliance for the
  • Mentally Ill
  • National Council for Behavioral Health
  • OC Bar Foundation
  • OC Public Health Nursing
  • Orange County Vital Brain Aging Program
  • Project Self Sufficiency
  • Providence Speech and Hearing
  • Public Law Center
  • Second Harvest
  • SPIN – Serving People in Need
  • SOS Children & Family Health Center
  • SOS Dr. Robert & Dorothy Beauchamp Child and Family Dental Center
  • Susan G. Komen OC
  • Youth Employment Services