Getting in Front of Community Health Needs
Since their inception in 1992, the Community Action Councils (CACs) have given Palomar Health a direct connection to the community’s needs on a regular basis. The five regional CACs bring together leaders from more than 75 agencies, including local governments, social services, law enforcement, health agencies, schools, community clinics, senior centers, faith communities, businesses, and community members to work collaboratively on health-related issues.
By working collaboratively with community members, the CACs allow Palomar Health to accurately identify and effectively address the health care needs across our district.
Helping Mental Health Caregivers
The Community Alliance for Healthy Minds (CAHM) was founded by Rex and Connie Kennemer after their son Todd - who struggled with bipolar disorder - took his own life. The one-day CAHM Forum, which is supported by the Poway/Rancho Bernardo/ Rancho Penasquitos CAC, brings together mental health and suicide-prevention professionals who provide inspiration, resources, and support for individuals and families struggling with mental illness.
Laurie Soto Levy knows the value of the CAHM Forum. She first attended one nearly five years ago, seeking a better understanding of her son’s newly-diagnosed mental illness, and how she might improve her care for him. She was deeply impacted by the program where she received invaluable information on the clinical aspects of mental health in keynote presentations, breakout educational sessions, and at a resource fair. But the highlight of the event was the sense of community and support she experienced.
“At the Forum I realized that I am not alone as a caregiver for someone with mental illness,” says Laurie. “There is a real sense of strength in knowing others are experiencing the same things as you. I walked away from the Forum empowered and hopeful.”
Since that time, Laurie has become an advocate for mental health issues within the community. Today she’s actively involved with the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) and participates weekly in Palomar Health’s Friends in the Lobby program, where trained volunteers offer educational support for family and friends visiting loved ones in the inpatient behavioral health unit
Laurie has even joined the planning committee for CAHM and served as a workshop speaker at the Forum.
“The CAHM Forum helped me put more tools in my toolbox for handling stressful situations with my son,” says Laurie. “I am grateful for the opportunity to share with others, and help supply them with some of the tools they might need in dealing with mentally ill family members.”