There are lots of notable things about the city of Compton. It has a rapidly improving school system. It’s a stable, multi-racial community with a long history of African American empowerment and a growing Latinx population. Above all, Compton is a city where neighbors take care of each other. That’s the spirit behind a newly launched public health campaign, Compton Healthy, that aims to improve the health of the 100,000 people who call Compton home — because despite the community values which make Compton so strong, there are troubling health trends that must be addressed.
Currently, St. John’s Well Child and Family Center operates four health centers in Compton, with another set to open early next year. As the largest community health center network serving the City of Compton, and the longest serving health provider here, St. John’s has a particular connection to Compton — and a particular investment in improving the health of its residents.
Compton Unified runs 35 schools serving approximately 23,000 students, and has seen dramatic improvement in education attainment and access in recent years. Although we are proud of the continuous improvement we are experiencing in education, equally important is the health of our community. That’s why St. John’s Well Child and Family Center and Compton Unified are working to create synergy through Compton Healthy, providing critical health services that will enable our community to thrive.
Together, we are working to continue improving access to health care and disease indicators through a full-scale public health campaign that will substantially move the needle on health for Compton families. As we know, access to a doctor is only one part of what a person needs to get healthy.
Right now, life expectancy in Compton is five years below the LA County average. There’s a lack of recreational and park space which keeps kids and adults alike from living healthy, active lives. Lung cancer deaths in Compton are 70% higher than LA County as a whole. Finally, Compton has higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, a higher rate of uninsured residents, and the highest asthma rates of any city in the County.
Compton Healthy aims to combat these health issues through a number of new programs like hearing and vision checks at local preschools; education, testing and treatment for all high schoolers and college students about reproductive health; mobile clinic days at all Compton schools for students to get screenings and physicals; rotating Compton High School students through our school based health center at Dominguez High School; diabetes classes, education and sustained treatment; and more. We also hosted the 8th annual Compton Walk for a Cure, attended by thousands of people to uplift cancer survivors, provide free breast exams, and raise awareness around reducing the risk of breast cancer.
Overall, the campaign will be a way to show that public health can be improved by community health centers partnering with other local institutions around a common commitment to population health, building deeper relationships with residents along the way.
At the end of the day, we all believe that every single person has the right to affordable, accessible health care — and that access to health care is a necessary catalyst for justice and dignity. That’s why we’re excited to work with Comptonians to build a city we can all be proud of.
Darin Brawley serves as the Superintendent of Compton Unified School District and Jim Mangia serves as the President and CEO of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center