Monday, November 16, 2015

UCLA Health Continued (2): Questions for the Chief Marketing Officer

Pattie Cuen
Chief Marketing Officer 
UCLA Health System 

Dear Pattie Cuen, 

We have been in touch previously about a Community Health Program featured in Vital Signs. I was glad that you were able to schedule one presentation about the health benefits of cycling in 2011. 

The UCLA Bicycle Academy would now like to express our disappointment that you have not taken up a sponsorship request from Santa Monica regarding their bike-share system. We have been told that your office had been contacted repeatedly to consider if the UCLA Health logo should appear on 500 Breeze bikes which are now operating. As you know, UCLA Health operates a hospital and a large number of medical offices in Santa Monica. Your support for a public transportation system which has, according to CDC experts, significant health benefits, would seem an excellent fit, both regionally and because of your commitment to community health. Why were you not able to take advantage of this opportunity? Has there been some administrative barrier that prevented you from pursuing this? Has someone whispered something bad about bicycles? 

The corporate mission of UCLA Health is to increase market share among those who need medical help. But you also have a responsibility to enable the public to lead active and healthy lives with fewer visits to the doctor. Putting your brand onto bicycles advances this community benefit and connects your brand with a young and trendy audience who represent an urban, "car-light" lifestyle of the future. I know we are in agreement because of this memorable image, which so effectively presents the rejuvenating abilities of the bicycle. 

It so happens that the City of Los Angeles is also planning to launch its own bike share system soon. They too are looking for a major sponsorship partner. I want to encourage you to reach out to them and work towards placing the stamp of an enlightened health provider on the most healthy mode of transportation. 

News today is that America's obesity problem is still growing, up from 34 % to 37%. This may sound like a economic opportunity for some in the health business. I hope you hear it as a different challenge: How could the UCLA Health brand support the active living arguments which flourish inside public health programs around the country, including the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA, where you teach healthcare marketing. 

Please share with us the reasons why you declined the Breeze Bike request so that we can work towards removing such obstacles in the future. 

We have copied Dr Mazziotta because we are currently discussing with him a more rigorous approach about how UCLA Health sites can support and increase the numbers of those who do not drive. We believe marketing should play an important part in this conversation. 


Dr Michael Cahn 
Secretary, UCLA Bicycle Academy

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

UCLA Health Continued (1): The medical establishment as a bicycle friendly employer

We had a short answer from Mazziotta, who writes: The UCLA Health System always wants to support activities that improve the health of the campus and the community that surrounds it. Your request to more effectively support sustainable and more healthy mobility would fall under that umbrella. That said, almost all of the items that you mention in the email correspond to traffic flow, bike lanes and bicycle storage in and around the campus. These activities are overseen and controlled by the campus rather than the Health System or the School of Medicine. As such, I will forward your comments and requests to the appropriate people at the campus level and have them respond accordingly. 

Karwaski from UCLA Transportation followed up with a more substantial answer. It includes the memorable term "erosion of entropy", as in: "While this is admittedly a complex process involving multiple jurisdictions, the combined public relations value along with the real-world utility of having such a facility will erode any entropy within the various partners." He also warmly acknowledges of our own work.

His answer is here.

I then tried to draw the campus architect into this discussion. Referring to the plans for a new UCLA Health office location in Reseda, I raised technical questions which the campus architect quickly, too quickly, referred back to UCLA Transportation.

I asked:

With reference to our correspondence with Dr Mazziotta, aimed to insure that the UCLA Health System offers safe, attractive and welcoming bicycle facilities at all its locations, I would like to ask how the project # 947785.01 referenced above will contribute to this goal.

I would like to know: 

1) Do current procedures for this and similar tenant improvements include negotiations with the landlord aimed to increase the number of users and employees who will choose active and healthy means? 

2) Which nationally recognized standards do you apply when establishing the amount, type and placement of bicycle facilities (eg ABPB?) at locations used by UCLA Health?

3) Does the absence, presence and quality of such facilities play a role in SCAQMD compliance? 

4) When making changes that serve to attract a greater number of visitors without a car, it is good practice to put a $ value on the savings achieved for every car not parked. How have you calculated this value? Do you have a conflict of interest policy in place when weighing such savings against the income achieved through parking charges and valet parking services? 

My sense is that both the Architect and the CEO of the Health System imagine that UCLA Transportation is doing a job which it really is not equipped to provide. Traditionally, UCLA Transportation was strictly limited to work on the Campus. The questions we raise are specifically off campus. Moreover, support for healthy modes is not only a question of putting a bike rack somewhere, - most likely next to the refuse bins. It is about programming, about base-lines, about education, about a change of culture when selecting, renting, refurbishing, using locations for UCLA Health System. To provide that kind of service for such a large entity with diverse regional premises, some big, some small, where none so far exhibit any traces of having had the benefit of a professional bicycle planner, is a daunting job. Creating a bicycle plan and implementing it over such a varied geography will surely take a number of years. It will take more than "Karwaski will fix it" to make the UCLA Health system a truly bicycle friendly employer.

UCLA Health has a very strong marketing team, who have given us the image of the senior cyclists who happily ride along the beach. That marketing team also looks to it that most of the buildings UCLA Health uses across town carry the trademark blue color of our campus. It would be nice if the same care and attention that is needed to create this consistent marketing message was applied to make these sites fit for a healthy cycling future. Like the UCLA blue, this process would offer a great public relations value, but more than that, it would also have real-world utility, offering healthy modes to the communities where UCLA Health works.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The UCLA Health System needs a Bicycle Master Plan

The UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative was a milestone. Our public health experts led the way. The campus commitment is significant. Applause. Applause. Applause. But UCLA Health, that part of UCLA which employs more than 50% of all UCLA employees, always seemed distant when UCLA Transportation worked hard to reduce car trips and support cyclists. The Tiverton Bike Route blocked by building work, Bicycle racks replaced by valet parking for cars, and off campus locations, well, we just don't know. It is time to find out what UCLA Health is really doing for healthy and sustainable modes on and off campus. It is time that the high standards of support for non-motorized modes developed by UCLA Transportation are applied to all sites where UCLA Health operates.

Hence our invitation to Dr Mazziotta, the Vice Chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences, the Dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and the CEO of the UCLA Health System.

Click on Image to view pdf 

To prepare for the conversation with Dr Mazziotta, we need to hear from those who are involved with the medical schools and UCLA Health, be it student, staff, faculty or patient. Please point us to areas where small changes would have a big effect. Tell us about unsafe infrastructure, about a history of collisions, about administrative processes which discourage alternatives to cars use, and all the other malignant side-effects of that well ingrained notion that everybody drives a car in LA. The car-centric default is alive and well here, even though it leads to obesity, diabetes, asthma and cancer (evidence). Tell us how you were able to commute between UCLA and the VA hospital before 9/11, how that embarrassing Tiverton closure affects you or your colleagues. Are there questions which a public record request could answer? Are there conflicts of interest which make it difficult for UCLA Health to come on board with the bicycle turn?

Please come to our monthly meeting at noon on 5 November 2015 where we will prepare our dialogue with Dr Mazziotta. Please leave a comment on this page, email, tweet or share your thoughts on social media.

UCLA Health could be missing the train towards a better bike-able future. Even Cedars-Sinai tells you where to park your bike. Our health system is not "against"cyclists: They just don't own the problem that many not-yet-cyclists would choose healthy and sustainable modes if the right support and infrastructure was in place. That is what needs to change.

Lets try to give this big ship a slightly different direction: Back in 2006, the Bicycle Master Plan was virtually boycotted the largest unit (by $ and people) of UCLA: Not a single representative of UCLA Health is among the 67 names acknowledged on the first page. Things change late in 2014, when two deans of the Medical School, Linda Sarna and Eugene Washington, spoke out in support of bike lanes for Westwood. Mazziotta can build on this support and on the research in Public Health to bring his own houses and hospitals (6 hospitals and a large medical group) in order. As he unites the various leadership roles on the medical campus, now is a unique moment to move towards a Bicycle Master Plan for UCLA Health.

In the meantime, Noel, Physical Therapist at UCLA Rehabilitation, rides ahead with some sensible advice.