On October 12, the County presented the 32nd annual Productivity and Quality Awards to County Departments and programs that have gone above and beyond in identifying solutions that reflect both innovation and excellence in service. The theme of the 2018 awards was “Innovating for Impact.” This year’s honorees helped the County avoid an estimated $101 million in annual costs, generated $32 million in savings, and brought in an additional $12 million in revenue. In addition to these important financial benefits, however, these programs represent investments that transform lives, foster vibrant and resilient communities, and help realize many of the goals laid out in the County’s Strategic Plan.

Here are the Top Ten Award Winners:

ADD to Improve Pre-Hospital Patient Care: Fire Department

On June 7, 2017, the Los Angeles County Fire Department implemented automatic drug delivery (ADD), which uses biometric fingerprint technology, to allow paramedics to resupply controlled drugs from the closest geographical machine. Previously, first responders would have to go through a laborious, less efficient paper-based system. Now through the use of 24 ADD machines communicating with a centralized pharmacy, the Fire Department secure the availability of these critical drugs for patient care. Currently, this is the most extensive fire department-based ADD system in the nation. The ADD system has dramatically improved the efficiency, accountability, and security of the drug resupply process.

Homeless Task Force- Home Is Where Your Health Is: Health Services (Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Clinical Social Work Department)

The homelessness crisis in Los Angeles has led to a sharp increase in homeless individuals living in and around Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, which, in turn, caused an uptick in Emergency Room visits and inpatient admissions, leading to an overburdened system. In response to these challenges, the medical center’s Clinical Social Work Department formed the Homeless Task Force. The Homeless Task Force is a specialized group of County staff and community partners, who work to identify, assess and link homeless patients to placement and other relevant community resources. The task force works closely with the Department of Health Services’ Housing for Health program. The positive effects of the Homeless Task Force are evident: ER employees can focus more on medical emergencies and ensure patients get the help they need, and visible improvements have been made to the hospital’s campus. During the first year of the task force’s work, they secured placement for over 250 patients and saved Los Angeles County approximately $5,682,332!

The Great Read Away- Fine Forgiveness for Youth: LA County Library

To encourage reading and access to information, the LA County Library has instituted a program called The Great Read Away, which allows young cardholders ages 21 and under to reduce fines that have accrued on their accounts by spending time reading in the library.  Studies have shown that there is a relationship between low literacy,  incarceration, and decreased employability. The Great Read Away aims to better the lives of youth from lower socioeconomic communities by getting them in the library to read rather than having to pay fines. Participants can choose to do their reading with any one of the various media the library carries, including books or eBooks, graphic novels, comic books, magazines, newspapers, digital databases, or articles. As of April 30, 2018, 1.6 million reading minutes had been logged in 29,000 reading sessions, more than 7,000 accounts had been unblocked, and more than 10,000 cleared of all fines.

Virtual Autopsy Program: Medical Examiner-Coroner and the Third Supervisorial District

With the help of funding from the Third District and enthusiastic support from the religious community, the Medical Examiner-Coroner has begun to incorporate computed tomography scans in the death investigation process. Since the program ’s inception, the Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner has utilized CT studies to examine 2,300 deceased individuals in cases that are homicides, children 5-years-of-age and younger, deaths in custody, deaths due to blunt trauma, and cases where there is a religious objection to autopsy.  By employing CT scans in the autopsy process, LA County is staying on the cutting edge of forensic pathology, increasing the quality of death investigations, improving diagnostic accuracy for decedents with a religious objection to traditional autopsies, optimizing efficiency for pathologist services, and reducing turnaround times for certain cases. Finally, the County estimates that since September 2016 the program has saved $3,450,000 and it is expected to reduce the cost by at least 50% in the future.

Creating Super First Responders: Mental Health with District Attorney

The County has recognized that there is a need to equip frontline law enforcement with the practical tools needed to assess and de-escalate, intervene, and manage these crisis-driven incidents, leading to better outcomes for the persons in crisis and the community in which they live. On any given day, it is estimated that there are one million people with schizophrenia and manic-depressive illness that are not receiving treatment. The consequences of such individuals interacting with law enforcement, if those first responders do not have the proper training to deal with people in mental health crisis, can be tragic and even deadly. It is crucial that deputies receive training, both in the academy and post-academy, to develop the skills necessary to manage these situations safely.

Parks After Dark: Parks and Recreation with Mental Health, Public Health, Children and Family Services, Probation, Sheriff, and Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services

In 2010, the Parks After Dark program was created as the prevention component of Los Angeles County’s Gang Violence Reduction Initiative and was launched in 2010 at three County parks. Today, the program has expanded to 33 parks. Through this program, various arms of government partnered with numerous community-based organizations to promote safety, health, social cohesion, and equity in disadvantaged communities. Parks After Dark offers extended hours of operation and provides youth and their families access to free, high-quality programming, including recreational activities, educational workshops, entertainment programming, resource fairs, volunteer and youth employment opportunities, family games, free meals, and much more. The program has certainly had an impact. A UCLA study found Parks After Dark has decreased community violence, and increased physical activity rates, improved access to recreational programming and innovative services, and enhanced overall community well-being.

Campus Kilpatrick And The LA Model: Probation with Public Works, Health Services, Mental Health, and Los Angeles County Office of Education

Guided by the LA Model, which embraces the core tenets of safety, empowerment, and engagement to promote youth development and rehabilitation, Campus Kilpatrick is an innovative new juvenile justice residential program for youth. The Probation Camp is based on a holistic, therapeutic approach to rehabilitation in a home-like setting that seeks to promote the development of personal goals, enhance interpersonal skills, and emphasize peer and staff support. Campus Kilpatrick was designed in collaboration with a group of community partners committed to long-term system transformation, including the Children’s Defense Fund, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, local government and community stakeholders, and youth and families.

Exide’s Exit- Unprecedented Community Empowerment: Public Health with First District, Health Services, and Mental Health

In 2015, the Exide Battery facility was permanently closed. Despite the closure, prompted in part by work done by the Department of Public Health and the First District, past toxic emissions have placed the communities at risk for cancers, lead poisoning, respiratory illness, and learning disabilities. While addressing current and future health needs of the majority Latino community, the County urged State agencies to effectively remove the toxins from the homes. This lead to the State’s largest cleanup of toxic contamination in history, and also resulted in AB 118 and 2189 calling for an aggregate $188 million for cleanups. The Exide cleanup is an example of a truly collaborative endeavor led by the Department of Public Health and First District, with the Health Agency departments of Mental Health and Health Services, aimed at bringing much-needed aid to one of the most pollution burdened and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in the County.

Hepatitis A Outbreak Response: Public Health with Health Services, Sheriff, Fire, and Human Resources

Following a series of Hepatitis A outbreaks in San Diego and Santa Cruz Counties, the Department of Public Health quickly sprang into action, implementing preventive actions beforehand to prevent or limit the impact of an outbreak. When a local outbreak was declared in September 2017, the department began addressing it immediately by implementing a multi-pronged, multi-sectoral response with various partners, including surveillance and rapid vaccination of contacts, stakeholder engagement, an aggressive plan to vaccinate high-risk persons, and improving sanitation conditions in homeless encampments and other locations. As a result of these efforts, the number of County Hepatitis A cases was much lower than in other jurisdictions. Not only did these actions save the County money, but it is also estimated that around 25 deaths were averted due to the swift and thorough response.

Property Evidence and Laboratory Management System: Sheriff’s Department

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department implemented the Property Evidence and Laboratory Management System, or PRELIMS for short, in 2014. Replacing hand ledgers and several disparate systems, PRELIMS is a Countywide standardized, electronic system facilitates access to cases and tracks chain of custody for over 400,000 items and 15,000 forensic laboratory requests annually.  PRELIMS enforces accountability for evidence management and streamlines the disposal of 110,000 evidence/property items annually. The system has saved investigators and property custodians an estimated 90,000 hours per year or $6.5 million in salary savings.