Support Health Equity

UCLA's Dr. Sanaz Mermarzedh and cancer survivor Grace Geaga
UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center's Dr. Sanaz Mermarzedh and ovarian cancer survivor Grace Geaga

Olive View Patient Navigation

In 2019, the UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center embarked on a Strategic Plan with five key aims, one of which is Building Healthy Communities by reducing health care disparities. The Patient Navigation program at Olive View- UCLA Medical Center (OVMC) is one of the ways in which UCLA is addressing health equity.

The UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center established a formal collaboration with OVMC in Sylmar, California, to help ensure that more Angelenos have access to the high-quality cancer care provided by UCLA, including access to cutting-edge clinical trials. Close to 70% of the population served by OVMC fall below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and the majority of the individuals seeking cancer care services at OVMC are either uninsured or underinsured.

In addition to providing high-quality UCLA cancer care, the UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center realized that it needed to create a Patient Navigation program to help the patients at OVMC overcome barriers that often prevent them from accessing and/or continuing cancer treatment. To address these barriers, the JCCC-Olive View Patient Navigation Program was established. The Patient Navigation program at OVMC provides critical navigation and support services to patients facing cancer by experienced patient navigators imbedded in OVMC cancer clinics. These services include coordination of appointments, tests and scans, education about treatments and their side effects, translation services, genetic testing and counseling. The goal is to foster an environment that promotes compassion, respect, collaboration, and above all, hope. 

With only two staff members, the Patient Navigation program at OVMC has already made a tremendous impact by improving patients' access to cancer care, shortening the time from diagnosis to treatment and improving compliance with treatment. The Patient Navigation program currently provides services to approximately 130 to 140 new patients each year. Patients supported by the navigation program have approximately 90% care compliance rate.

While the Patient Navigators provide incredible support to OVMC patients, UCLA identified further patient needs and the solution. By expanding the Patient Navigation program team, OVMC can address the additional barriers that prevent its patients from beginning and/or continuing cancer treatments.

Donate Now

The Need: Resource Coordinator of the Cancer Patient Navigation Program at Olive View

The UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center plans to add a third staff member to the Patient Navigation program  a Resource Coordinator. With the addition of a Resource Coordinator, the program will be able to provide wrap-around services that can have a profound impact on a patient's access to and completion of care.

Sandy, a current OVMC patient, wants to receive radiation treatment at a location closer to her home. She has spent hours advocating for this change with her insurance company. This complicated approval process has delayed her treatment and left Sandy feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. OVMC patients like Sandy would benefit tremendously from the support of a Resource Coordinator who helps patients navigate complex insurance policies and get their treatments when and where best for their overall lives. The Resource Coordinator would also be a consistent staff person to secure resources to help remove barriers to treatment.

Amy has been diagnosed with stage 3 cancer at the age of 29. Due to the intense treatment schedule and side effects, Amy has been forced to leave her job. The thought of fighting cancer and supporting her young child while only relying on her boyfriend's salary is terrifying. The OVMC Resource Coordinator would be able to connect Amy to a meal delivery service, to receiving a financial assistance voucher, and to transportation assistance (since her boyfriend needs the car to get to work), enabling Amy to receive her treatments on time and with reduced stress. 

Sometimes the smallest thing -- a car ride, a meal, paying a $25 electricity bill -- can have enormous consequences while a patient is facing cancer. The Resource Coordinator will provide valuable patient acuity assessment and access to services and resources that contribute tremendously to a patient's ability to successfully navigate and complete his or her cancer treatments.

The Resource Coordinator will provide direct support in the following ways:

  • Insurance reconciliation
  • Applications for insurance coverage, such as Medicaid
  • Coverage verification and resolving coverage issues
  • Managing hospital bills
  • Transportation assistance getting to and from appointments
  • Financial assistance for daily living costs
  • Food assistance
  • Material support which includes head coverings such as wigs and scarves; postoperative pillows, bras and other physical supports; actual wig fitting process; and chemotherapy basket/bags (filled with items helpful for treatment day/s) 
  • Social worker services for emotional support

Without this support, a patient's cancer care is frequently compromised. The Resource Coordinator is a tremendously important partner in removing these barriers so patients can complete their treatments and go on to have engaged, active lives. This half-time position will aid an estimated 100 patients annually, including those with breast, hepatobiliary, gastric, colorectal cancer, melanoma, and lung cancer diagnoses. 

Join the Committee to Support Health Equity

The UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation has established the Health Equity Committee to fund this important care and invites you to become an inaugural member of this inspiring group of philanthropists by donating $1,000 or more. Our Committee Members include:

Don and Eileen Coskey Fracchia - Founding Sponsor
Jill Eshman and Mark Eshman
Nadine and Bill Neiman
Mark Smith and Diane Shader Smith

“As part of a public institution, the UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center is committed to building healthy communities, which benefit all of us. Cancer touches everyone, regardless of ethnicity or socio-economic status. The UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has prioritized health equity as part of our strategic plan and is working to make life-changing cancer treatments more accessible to those who need it by removing barriers that can impact care, such as understanding insurance and helping with transportation to appointments. As Director of the Cancer Center and President of the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation, I am immensely grateful to our allies on the Health Equity Committee who share the Cancer Center's mission to reduce health care disparities and who understand the critical role that philanthropy plays in ensuring that all Angelenos are able to more easily receive leading-edge oncology care,” said Dr. Mike Teitell.

Support Health Equity

The UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation, along with the Committee Members, are focused on securing $50,000 to establish the new Resource Coordinator position at OVMC. The Resource Coordinator will be a funded half-time position when the goal is reached. A gift of $2,500 will provide this key support for 5 patients; $5,000 will care for 10 patients and $10,000 will provide direct support for 20 patients. Once this need is met, the Committee will meet with Director of the JCCC Dr. Mike Teitell to learn of additional priorities within Health Equity that will be launched and/or fortified through philanthropy.

The Foundation invites you to help improve health equity for individuals facing cancer.

Checks made payable to UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation in support of health equity should be sent by mail to:

Margaret Steele
Executive Director
UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation/ UCLA
9-623 Factor Building
Box 951780
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1780 USA

Donate Now