Upvalley workers and seniors will soon have a better pulse on their health and the means to possibly dodge a hospital visit down the road.
In its latest round of grant-giving to bolster healthcare for underserved populations in Napa County, the Napa Valley Vintners, a wine industry trade group, recently awarded $250,000 to the St. Helena Hospital Foundation.
The NVV’s grants tend to take aim at healthcare and education in the county, channeling funds into nonprofits providing services for children and the elderly.
Instead, the latest grant is directed largely at the valley’s employers and workforce, with the funds going in part toward equipment upgrades for the hospital’s JobCare Center. The injection of money will also help the hospital put together a mobile health unit to reach Upvalley seniors with preventive screenings.
The hospital’s JobCare program is often used by Upvalley employers for services like pre-employment physicals, treatment for work-related injuries, drug and alcohol testing, flu shots and physical therapy.
Though separate from the JobCare program, the new mobile unit will also be multi-purpose, visiting job sites in addition to reaching those Upvalley seniors who are without transportation and unable to get to the hospital for screenings.
“We’re world famous for our wines, and it takes a lot of people to make that happen and I want to make sure we’re helping them stay healthy while they’re here doing that,” said Dr. Steven Herber, president of Adventist Health St. Helena.
Each year, the JobCare program reaches more than 7,500 employees in the county. In 2018, it saw referrals from over 600 local businesses, of which at least 300 were wineries.
With the new NVV-funded mobile unit, dubbed Hearts at Risk, the foundation will be able to take testing for diabetes and high cholesterol to worksites, including wineries throughout the valley. The group also plans to offer general information on preventive health and wellness to the valley’s workforce.
The grant will also allow the program to invest in new equipment and training for staff and expand services through on-site health screenings, while also providing surgeries to uninsured or underinsured workers who fall outside of the program’s network. According to the NVV, most of the JobCare program’s clients are underinsured or uninsured.
As for its JobCare Center, the foundation will put the grant toward new software and staff training, and replacing 20-year-old equipment. St. Helena Hospital’s JobCare program is one of two occupational health providers in the county, after services at Queen of the Valley were discontinued several years ago.
“It’s extremely meaningful,” Herber said of the grant. “It’s interesting that in this country we spend so much on healthcare and you think of hospitals as a rich place. But when we’re tucked away in this upper valley and we take care of everybody, regardless of their ability to pay, and to have the generosity of the community, and the Vintners are an important part of that.”
Funds for the NVV’s grants have been raised through the group’s annual Auction Napa Valley. Held each year since 1981, the fundraiser has brought in more than $185 million for nonprofits that specifically benefit Napa County’s underserved populations. Since Auction began, the NVV has gifted around $13 million to the hospital in funds raised through the event.
“Honestly, we just don’t have the resources to go into the community and do this on our own,” Herber said. “But when we have someone like the Vintners partner with us, it really helps make a difference in the community.”