This Is “See You Later,” Not Goodbye
Staff Perspective by Tania Perez
Dear Get Healthy SMC Partners,
Over the past year and a half, I have been honored to work with so many wonderful partners across our county. Some of you I knew from my time at the Office of Diversity and Equity, and others were new to me and we came together as we worked on centering equity during the COVID-19 vaccine roll out. As I transition out of my role, I want to send a big heart felt thank you to all of you who have trusted me, collaborated with me, and even when times were difficult had so much patience with me and our system. Truly the best part of my job was getting to know all of you. I believe that equity starts in the soft place where authentic relationships take root. These roots are then watered by a common mission of systems change bending towards the light of justice. Just as I’ve enjoyed the moments of strategy, the operationalization of work, I’ve also enjoyed the quieter moments of sharing space, learning about your families, and laughter that fills virtual rooms.
We have worked on so many things and I want to acknowledge all that we have been able to do in the past year and a half. Through the Vaccine Education Taskforce, we trained over 80 outreach workers and stakeholders on motivational interviewing and accurate vaccine information for marginalized populations. We worked collaboratively to obtain feedback on various community facing documents including a brief conversation guide for outreach workers. We attended and hosted a number of events including Collective Healing: How to talk to your loved one’s about the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as a Latinx Child Vaccination Q&A session with 6 pediatricians that reached over 1,000+ people and where we answered community questions in Spanish with English translation.
Through obtaining the California Equity Recovery and Infrastructure grant we were also able to make strides in building our Health Equity infrastructure. Through the Community Collaboration Process, our goal was to bring Public Health Policy and Planning closer to our community after a devastating pandemic, in hopes that we can rebuild trust, listen to needs and create plans with community wisdom at the center. We held 26 sessions with various community partners, Deandra our Community Health Planner has done an extensive amount of research and has spent countless hours coding all the qualitive data we have gathered. We have heard from domestic workers in central county, farmworkers and older adults on the coast, as well as youth in Daly City and East Palo Alto to name a few. We have been so fortunate to work will nearly all of the Office of Diversity and Equity Health Initiatives as well. Through this process many community members shared with us their stories, of how we as a system have caused harm, how we can do better and their hopes for a life where they are free to access quality services with dignity, respect and in turn enhance their wellbeing. One of the things we heard throughout was the need for diverse staff that can “see” them and bring them to the table for shared decision making. I believe that the Community Collaboration process is the first step for us coming closer to the community and I am so grateful we have been able to work on this project together. I want to especially thank our working group that has vet our process from the beginning and whose wisdom we honor and respect. We are excited to share the results with everyone who participated as well as all our partners.
The road towards racial equity and justice is one that extends before all of us and will continue after us. I intend on continuing on this road with all of you and hope to come across many of you at other intersections as I continue my journey. You have all left a lasting impact on me, and I am sure we will meet again.
For community /Para la comunidad,