What They’re Watching: Jeffrey Lewis, Legacy Health Endowment

Jeffrey Lewis is the President and CEO of Legacy Health Endowment, which works to create sustainable health care solutions in Stanislaus and Merced Counties through philanthropy. He joins us in the episode of “What They’re Watching” to talk about how Legacy Health Endowment is addressing the provider shortage.

I run a foundation in the Central Valley which takes the southern part of Stanislaus County and the northern part of Merced County where the lack of physicians is horrific, the lack of physician assistants is abominable. What keeps me up at night is trying to figure out how do you change the curve and how do you build a medical care workforce when the public sector talks about it, but doesn’t really do much about it. We tackle the problem by doing the following.

We gave $1.6 million, $1.7 million grant to a Livingston Community Health, an FQHC to partner with Cal State Stanislaus, which has one of the outstanding nursing programs in the state, to create a masters degree in family medicine, i.e., a nurse practitioner program. A million dollars of the $1.7 million goes towards what’s called tuition relief. The catch is this: any student who wants tuition relief must agree to live and work in the bi-county area I represent, which is about 19 zip codes. Twenty-three students in the first class, 15 took tuition relief. So that means by December 2019, I’ll have 15 new nurse practitioners in the community.

The second thing we’re doing to bend the cost curve is to focus on behavioral health and to figure out how you can use philanthropy to help licensed clinical social workers become educated, particularly bilingual, to work at an FQHC as an example. And we’re also exploring more importantly how do you begin to educate young men and women who graduate from college, particularly Hispanics, who want to go to medical school but can’t afford to do so. So we’re looking at whether you can use philanthropy in the same way to provide tuition relief through a non-profit health care facility as a partner where we would pay for the tuition for someone to go to a California licensed medical school, MD or DO, and then after the residency program, they would come back and work in the 19 zip codes for four years at one FQHC, or five years in terms of paying back their tuition assistance.