Safety net institutions such as La Maestra Community Health Centers play a pivotal role in reducing health disparities. For 26 years, LMFC has served immigrant, refugee, uninsured and underinsured populations in the most ethnically diverse and underserved communities of central, east and south San Diego County. Racial and ethnic minorities face more barriers to diagnosis and care, receive lower quality treatment and experience worse health outcomes than their white counterparts.
La Maestra participated in a two year pilot project, in partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers and the Million Hearts Initiative, to develop innovative strategies to improve hypertension detection and diagnoses. La Maestra was one out of 11 FQHCs nationwide selected to participate in the two year project. By the end of the second year, La Maestra and the 10 other health centers collectively improved their blood pressure control rates by 8.7%. Within one year, La Maestra identified 1,381 patients with elevated blood pressure, and 415 of these patients enrolled in culturally and linguistically appropriate hypertension education classes.
In January 2017, La Maestra received a $50,000 grant from the Avon Breast Health Outreach Program to educate low-income, underserved women throughout central, south, and east San Diego and provide them access to low-cost or free mammograms and clinical breast exams in their own communities. The vital program will also provide comprehensive breast health education through one-on-one and group sessions emphasizing the importance of early cancer detection. The program will increase access to care by participating in community outreach events and providing breast cancer screenings where women live, work, play, and worship via the organization’s mobile mammography coach.
Since 2014, the breast health program at La Maestra has reached more than 5,000 women with screenings and information about the importance of early detection of breast cancer. Since 2012, the number of patients diagnosed with an abnormal breast finding has nearly doubled with a total of 551 patients diagnosed with abnormal findings in 2015. Every year, La Maestra refers an average of 20 women diagnosed with breast cancer to the University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center. Due to improved screenings the majority of these women were diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, which has the highest survivability and best health outcomes.