November 22, 2000

Operation Samahan Recognized by Johnson & Johnson for Innovation in Community Health Care

Operation Samahan, Inc. has joined the winner's circle of distinguished health care organizations with the acceptance of this year's Johnson & Johnson Community Health Care Crystal Award and an accompanying two-year, $100,000 grant. The award is one of the most significant honors in the community health care field, recognizing organizations for their ongoing commitment to help medically underserved people throughout the United States and in Puerto Rico.

Operation Samahan, Inc., was awarded the Community Health Care Crystal Award. Pictured with the Crystal are, from left to right: Carrol Waymon, chairman, samahan Board of Directors; Joel H. San Juan, executive director, Operation Samahan, Inc.; Joyce P. Hendricks, manager, Community Relations, Johnson & Johnson.

Established in 1973 by a small volunteer group of Filipino health professionals, Operation Samahan is a family health and social services center that provides quality, affordable and culturally accessible health care services in National City and Mira Mesa. Operations Samahan's services are targeted towards Latino, Asian, Filipino and Pacific Islanders immigrants and low-income residents, specifically women and children, who cannot access community health services because of a lack of information, financial constraints, immigration status, and language and cultural barriers.

Translated loosely, "Samahan" means working together —signifying unity, cooperation and support. This is reflected in the programs and services provided by the center including routine immunizations, clinical screenings, educational awareness programs on communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, support groups, and social services and advocacy on community-related issues. The center also provides an environment for blending Eastern medicine and Western healing practices through its newly established complementary and alternative medicine program.

The awarded grant will be used to enhance Operation Samahan's social services program through the development of a screening process and community-based outreach initiative that will allow the organization to collect vital data about the health needs and concerns of the immigrant and low-income populations of National City and Mira Mesa.

The screening process will create an opportunity for the center's staff and volunteer employees to address critical community issues, including prenatal care, diet and nutrition, preventive health care, cancer, lead poisoning, depression, and domestic violence. The information collected will be used to confidentially identify at-risk women and children, serve as an outreach tool, and to function as the foundation for new and enhanced services and programs.

"This award is a profound affirmation of our dedication to providing quality health and social services to the Latino, Asian, Filipino and Pacific Islander communities in San Diego," said Joel San Juan, executive director, Operation Samahan. "By developing new programs and improving existing services, we can continue to provide affordable health care services in a nulticultural, family and community environment."

Through the Community Health Care Program, Johnson & Johnson has turned the public spotlight on the resourcefulness and problem-solving skills that enable community health care organizations to address the difficult problems facing people in need. Approximately $9 million in grants has been awarded to 90 nonprofit organizations since the program began in 1987.

"Crystal Award recipients have been recognized throughout the nation as leaders in the field of community health care," said Nancy Lane, vice president of community relations at Johnson & Johnson. "Operation Samahan is one organization on the front line, working to provide essential medical services to our nation's medically underserved populations."

Johnson & Johnson brings together leaders in the field of community health care to collaborate towards a common goal. Each has a specific role that leverages its strengths and expertise, and each has responsibility to ensure the sustainability of the community heath care program long after the initial funding. The program represents a partnership between The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, the Morehouse School of Medicine, the National Council of La Raza, and Johnson & Johnson.

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