As Health Policy and Planning’s newest Community Health Planner, I’ll be supporting Get Healthy SMC objectives to improve health outcomes for San Mateo County residents by tackling economic obstacles to health like poverty and financial insecurity.
I’m so excited to be joining the team as its newest Senior Community Health Planner and bringing over six years of experience in transportation politics, policy, and planning. As a recent transplant from Los Angeles, I look forward to working with you and exploring this great county that my family and I now call home. Prior to joining the Health System, I worked for the city of Los Angeles, where I oversaw the transportation agenda for Los Angeles City Council President Pro Tempore Mitch Englander.
Hello Colleagues and Friends – As 2017 is coming to a close, I wanted to take the time to reflect with you on our collective priorities under Get Healthy SMC. We are half way through the five year strategic plan and have learned a lot as a collaborative on how the four community-identified priorities come together to impact healthy, equitable communities. We have now built strong partnerships with the leaders working across the priority issues and sharpened our strategies to have impact. I have one or two highlights for each priority that I want to lift up and celebrate with you.
By now, most people who follow housing news know that Governor Jerry Brown signed a landmark housing bill package in September that is expected to fundamentally change the ways we fund and approve housing projects in the state.
Many of you have interacted with me as the Contract Coordinator of Health Policy and Planning. I coordinate the contract development and amendment process with departments, program managers, and other County departments. As we select the next cohort of 2018 GHSMC Community Implementation recipients, I wanted to take this opportunity to share the basics of the contract process to clarify some of the questions we often receive during the application and contracting process.
We are currently recruiting two intern positions to join us part-time from November 2017 through May 2018. The Healthy Economy Intern will help our staff with researching and developing strategies to maximize opportunity for those facing economic barriers in San Mateo County. The Healthy Neighborhoods Intern will be researching and developing strategies to increase active transportation options for all San Mateo County residents. Application packets are due 9/8!
Get Healthy San Mateo County and its partners have a long history of working to ensure that all residents of San Mateo County have access to healthy and affordable fresh food. Get Healthy SMC has supported numerous projects to achieve this goal, while we’ve made great progress, there is still work to do. Get Healthy SMC along with the San Mateo County Food System Alliance recently embarked on an ambitious project to connect all of the various food related efforts underway in the county to maximize their impact in the community.
Active transportation, or the use of any human powered mode of transportation such as walking or biking, is an important element in staying healthy. When people are physically inactive this can compound preventable health issues like obesity, diabetes, or heart disease, but not everyone has the same opportunities for staying active. These opportunities include infrastructure, such as sidewalks, cross walks, or bike lanes, or it can mean having a safe environment, public transportation within walking distance, or other resources nearby, such as grocery stores.
The population aged 65 years and older in San Mateo County makes up about 14% of the overall county population but is expected to increase over the next forty years. Population projections show this age group more than doubling by 2060, while showing a decrease in the population under the age of 65 (Chart 1). With these projections in mind, working toward increasing housing options for this age group will support their ability to live long and healthy lives here in San Mateo County.
Research shows that academic achievement is closely related to health outcomes throughout the life course. Working with the goal of reducing health inequities and improving health outcomes, we support academic achievement through implementation of restorative practices in our schools and across San Mateo County school districts.
As many of you may know, Maeve Johnson will be on leave for a few months. While Maeve is away, I will be handling her workload pertaining to healthy housing issues throughout San Mateo County and engaging in city planning efforts in south county as relevant to healthy communities. My background is in city planning and public health, and I hold a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from UC Berkeley. My research at UC Berkeley explored issues of environmental justice and land use in California’s Central Valley.
I’m excited to introduce myself and to have this venue to share my perspective on how health and economics overlap and what it takes to build a healthy economy in our county. I am the new Community Health Planner, and I am coordinating the Healthy Economy program. I look forward to working with all of you to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy that promotes the well-being of all San Mateo County residents and workers.
We know that housing and health have a strong connection. When people have access to safe, affordable homes, they experience better health. That’s why we’re excited to be part of San Mateo County’s Home for All initiative. Home for All is a Countywide effort to build more homes in the county to meet the needs of residents and the demands of a growing workforce.
Last time I wrote, I discussed how data can make an impact and what resources Get Healthy San Mateo County (GHSMC) has coming down the pipeline to equip our partners with data. I am very excited to share that GHSMC has just expanded our data portal with more social, environmental, economic, and health indicators!
Food is a central part of our lives during Thanksgiving and the holiday season. It’s also an opportune time to reflect upon the issue of hunger and food insecurity that affects millions of people across the country who struggle with not having enough food, are unable to afford a balanced and nutritious diet, or are unsure when or where their next meal will be.
I lead our Epidemiology program at the San Mateo County Health System and assist with statistical analysis and provide data for policy and program planning. Our Epidemiologists at the Health System help to ensure our policy work is grounded in evidence. Through data reports and requests, we share health information with community members and other stakeholders on the health of San Mateo County.
Get Healthy San Mateo County Partners and Friends,
It’s been almost one year since we released our 2015-2020 strategic plan that highlights the four key priorities you identified for the collaborative. As Health System staff supporting Get Healthy San Mateo County (GHSMC), over this last year we’ve learned a lot about the key priority areas, engaged new areas of work, built new skills, and developed new partnerships. We’ve learned from all of you!
The majority of children in San Mateo County and across the country are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Get Healthy San Mateo County (GHSMC) is working hard to change that by supporting Farm to School initiatives in San Mateo County schools that encourage students to become more engaged in the food system and increase their interest in lifelong healthy eating.
Where we live, work, play and learn have an impact on our health—the availability and accessibility of public transit, safe places for us to walk or bike, our incomes, and even how much we spend to live in our communities affects the quality and length of our lives. Each of the above considerations is a choice we make every day, yet the health of a community is not always factored in by policymakers from the local to federal levels.