published on November 19, 2019 - 3:07 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

The Guilds of Valley Children’s Healthcare have announced an endowment of $5 million to transform the health and wellbeing of the Valley’s children through the establishment of the Guilds Center for Community Health.

According to Todd Suntrapak, president and CEO of Valley Children’s Healthcare, the Center will be the first of its kind in the Central Valley linked to clinical care, community partners and the health care network’s current community health initiatives to improve the health of children where they live.

“A few years ago, our Board of Trustees added a simple phrase to our mission: ‘…to continuously improve the health and well-being of children,’” Sunstrapak said. “And those words have shaped our thinking that brought us to the formation of this Center.”

Lynne Ashbeck, senior vice president of community engagement and population wellness for Valley Children’s, added that clinical care accounts for only 20% of the factors that impact a child’s health and the remaining 80% is influenced by factors such as where they live, what they eat, housing quality and neighborhood safety.

“Our ability to influence of those challenges in the ‘80%’ will help to give kids their best chance to simply be kids and to avoid the longer-term health consequences that follow,” she said.

The plan for the Center’s work is for it to be shaped by health data across Valley Children’s 12-county region and working with community organizations, school districts, behavioral and public health agencies and others.

Through some initial pilot programs, the Center has: Screened approximately 1,400 children for food insecurity in Merced, 60% of which were found to be insecure; provided fresh fruit to more than 3,000 children in partnership with Vallarta Supermarkets and; expanded “George’s Pass” to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo to help children with autism spectrum disorder and sensory issues.

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