Latest Campaign from Consortium of Los Angeles Health Systems Coaxes Patients Back for Routine and Preventive Care
// By Rhoda Weiss, Ph.D. //
Patients are still postponing routine care and preventive screenings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In one dramatic example, the CDC reported in June 2021 that breast cancer screenings through its Early Detection Program had declined 87 percent. Additionally, a National Poll on Healthy Aging1 taken in January 2021 reported nearly one in three Americans between 50 and 80 put off an in-person appointment for medical care in 2020 because they were worried about exposure to COVID-19. To counteract this trend, five health systems in Los Angeles County launched a new public awareness campaign. The multimedia, multi-month campaign features a public service video series with patients telling their stories of overcoming serious health conditions due to timely access to care and urging others to get the care they need.
In Los Angeles the BetterTogether.Health consortium of Cedars-Sinai, Dignity Health, Keck Medicine of USC, Providence, and UCLA Health that began in March 2020 recently launched another major multimedia campaign themed “Get Back to Your Doctor. Your Health. Your Joy. Because We Love a Healthy L.A.”
Pivoting from last year’s campaign of empty beaches, freeways, and landmarks, we painted an authentic, intimate mosaic of 11 Angelenos — including a basketball icon, champion gymnasts, entertainers, an artist, mixed martial-arts fighter, major league baseball player, competitive swimmer, priest, and mom with COVID and pregnant with triplets — who overcame health challenges as a result of timely access to preventive care.
The moving stories and interviews are everyday symbols of strength, inspiration, and hope, taking you inside the lives of courageous heroes who overcame challenges of serious disease and returned to what they love most — stories designed to encourage others to seek medical care when needed.
Care avoidance results in serious and preventable health consequences and has become its own public health crisis in Los Angeles County (population 10 million) and across the country. The five-system consortium — with hundreds of Los Angeles County care locations — joined forces to tackle head-on the “silent sub-pandemic” of those requiring but avoiding timely medical services.
A powerful new campaign features local and nationally recognized figures Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hall of Fame basketball player and former UCLA star, and Vin Scully, voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers for 67 years, who volunteered their time and talent as narrators for the campaign spots, with music provided by Hollywood composer Chris Thomas.
Vin Scully, narrating a 60-second spot, says, “If you’re putting off care, get back to your doctor, and get back to the things you love.”
In a series of one-minute videos, 11 patients tell compelling stories of their health care journeys, including their response to the question: “What would you say to others?”
Here’s what they said:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NBA all-time leading scorer who beat two cancers, is now among the great humanitarians of all time.
“With a team of health professionals and a support team, you can beat it.”
Alicia – Diagnosed with Covid-19 early in her pregnancy, she delivered healthy triplets.
“Getting through our experience with COVID just reaffirmed for me how important it is to have a really strong relationship with your medical team and making sure that you’re doing preventive care and know that they’re there to be a support system.”
Jared – Childhood leukemia survivor, now competitive swimmer, aspires to become a pediatric oncologist to treat kids with cancer.
“A few years ago, my immune system was low. Luckily, they found nothing, but if there had been something and I hadn’t gone back to the doctor then they wouldn’t have found it and I would’ve been in danger.”
Anna – Adopted from China, unable to walk, she competed on the NCAA championship gymnastics team.
“For me it was really important to make sure that I maintained my health well, so always getting that preventative care so that any long-term issues don’t arise is something I’m really passionate about.”
Padre Abdias – Priest with lung cancer is back inspiring many thousands of parishioners; he explained in Spanish:
“Cancer needs to be treated immediately, and the quicker you get treatment, the higher your chances of surviving are, and that was my case. And that is why it is so important for you to visit your doctors and get checked out.”
Jenn – Past champion gymnast overcame stage 4 breast cancer (her dog beat cancer, too); she is donating her business proceeds to fight cancer.
“I would say, get your ultrasounds, get your mammograms. It could make or break your outcome.”
Kevin – MMA fighter accessed early stroke treatment and is back sparring and training athletes and at-risk kids.
“It’s not only important for you to take care of yourself and live a healthy lifestyle, it’s important for you to go to the doctor and get checkups normally. It has to be a regular practice to see what’s going on with your body because you never know when something’s lurking.”
Connor – Major league baseball player beat testicular cancer and is now back to battling major league pitchers.
“If something feels abnormal, go to the doctor immediately … I want other men to know that it’s important to seek help and get the help that they need.”
Paul/Wayne – Opera singer and Broadway dancer partners, diagnosed weeks apart with bladder cancer and heart disease, are returning to performing. Paul says:
“I see the importance of regular checkups.”
Leslie – Breast cancer survivor is back creating beautiful works of art.
“I don’t think people should continue to put anything off at this point.”
Nearly two years since coming together, members of the consortium remain united in their goal to reach out and let people know that they are collectively committed to saving lives and maintaining optimal health of the communities they serve.
Rhoda Weiss, Ph.D., is president of Rhoda Weiss Consulting Group Inc. in Los Angeles and a member of the SHCM Editorial Advisory Board. She is also founder and current chair of three major organizations: AMA Health Care Executive Summit that’s met 16 times at iconic health systems; Health Market Leaders bringing together 110 of the nation’s largest health system CMOs for weekly conferences that since March 2020 number 150; and BetterTogether.Health — prominent Los Angeles health systems united to encourage people to put health first and access care when needed during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.