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Much Work Remains Ahead of Us

Staff Perspective Belén Seara

We are almost two years into a pandemic that has made crystal clear that the living conditions of our residents impact their health outcomes. Poverty, type of employment and overcrowding are drivers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalization rates, with lower-income residents of color experiencing the highest social, health and economic burdens of this pandemic.

The need of impacted communities continues to be such that most of our Get Healthy San Mateo County partners are still primarily focusing on keeping residents healthy and afloat through direct relief and interventions to manage COVID-19 infection rates in their communities.  Throughout this year, we slowly but steadily re-engaged with many of our Get Healthy San Mateo County community partners that had some capacity to return to their more policy and systems pre-pandemic activities and programs, but we also continued to support partners who are focused on providing direct relief. As we move into the new year, it is our hope that we can continue to co-create spaces to re-imagine our communities, our jobs, our homes, our schools, so we can all have equitable opportunities to thrive.  

The following are a few efforts that the Health Policy and Planning team has been able to support this year to continue advancing racial and health equity:

  • Thirty underrepresented youth from across the County are enrolled in a training coordinated by Youth Leadership Institute and the Daly City Youth Health Center to build their skills to serve on boards and commissions. This training will help them advance health and racial equity in their communities. As part of this effort to build a pipeline of racial and health equity youth leaders, we compiled a list of all youth councils in the county and another one with youth seats on boards and commissions.
  • Six local youth with economic barriers, participated in the Emergency Medical Services Corps, a 5-month training to become emergency medical technicians.
  • In partnership with the San Mateo County Office of Education, we are coordinating the Safe Schools for All Initiative, which aims to enhance the partnership between local health departments and offices of education to ensure students can safely remain in schools throughout the pandemic.
  • Through participation in the Climate Ready Extreme Heat Task Force, we’ve been able to add, for the first time, actions to the County’s Local Hazard Mitigation Plan that could lessen the impact of extreme heat in vulnerable communities.   
  • We participated in an inter-departmental training cohort to learn how to operationalize equity in climate resiliency planning. The County’s cohort partnered with North Fair Oaks Community Alliance to support their efforts to develop a training curriculum for residents to be better prepared for emergencies and disasters
  • The vaccination equity team continues to support equity in vaccination efforts through building strong partnerships with trusted community groups, coordinating health education with health care providers, and creating safe spaces to converse with under-vaccinated communities.
  • We supported the San Mateo County Office of Education in rolling out virtual walk audits to better understand the barriers students and parents are facing on their way to and from school.
  • In partnership with County Parks, and as part of the ParkRx program to use nature as medicine, we hosted the first nature pod where a small group of families joined a guided outdoor walk.

We are so grateful to our Get Healthy SMC partners for their commitment and hard work ensuring that all residents have equitable opportunities to a long and healthy life.

In partnership,

Belen Seara