Since becoming CEO six months ago, I have learned a lot about the history of Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) and its evolution that began in the mid-1950s. I greatly appreciate the time people have spent helping me fully appreciate what a true gem BCHD is.
The District story all began when the cities of Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach came together to build a community hospital in a location that, at the time, was a rural area. In fact, our campus site was a pig farm before the hospital was completed in 1960. Dubbed South Bay Hospital, the community medical facility was operated by the District until 1984. Then a third-party ran the hospital into the mid-90s, at which point increased private sector competition and the urbanization of the South Bay rendered the community hospital obsolete. The District’s Board of Directors decided to cease operating the building as a formal hospital and focus on preventive health in 1998. This marked the end of the South Bay Hospital and the beginning of Beach Cities Health District.
Roughly 70% of chronic illnesses that require hospitalization are preventable through lifestyle changes, so this was a strategic move – and years ahead of its time. The building, still owned today by the Health District, was upgraded 20 years ago and leased for the provision of health services. The lease revenue the District generates is used to fund critical health services in the three beach cities, ranging from childhood obesity prevention programming in schools to geriatric social workers.
In 2010, we successfully competed against dozens of cities across the U.S. for the right to implement the Blue Zones Project, an emerging, innovative community health initiative. And in just six years our beach community has transformed into one of the healthiest places to live in the country, according to data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Blue Zones Project has clearly shown us that our built environment – where we live, work, learn and play – has a significant impact on our health.
Today we’re asking our community to help guide us as we update the original hospital building and 11-acre campus that residents voted to construct over 60 years ago. This process is purposefully designed to enhance the campus to match who we are as an organization now and serve the ever-changing health needs of the Beach Cities.
In this issue of LiveWell, you will learn more about our proposed “Healthy Living Campus” concept, discover the many ways BCHD is addressing the needs of older adults and, hopefully, choose to play a role in the next stage of our evolution.
It is an exciting time.
Chief Executive Officer
Beach Cities Health District