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A Year of Implementing Your Healthy Vision

Staff Perspective Shireen Malekafzali

 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!

As we’ve ramped up our understanding of the identified priorities, we’ve also advanced them. We know these issues are urgent and there is no time to waste. 

I want to take this opportunity to share examples of what we’ve done to advance your priorities and the overall GHSMC mission through expanding education and engagement, as well as access to data and information. 

Education and Engagement:

We are sharing GHSMC’s mission, vision, and key priorities with as many partners as possible. Our goal is to grow understanding of the issues facing our communities, share barriers to building healthy, equitable communities and their connections to health, and identify key strategies for action. We’ve been educating and engaging through: 

  • A new monthly newsletter featuring the four key priorities, data, and partner successes 
  • Our social media presence to share real time opportunities and information and engage new audiences
  • Presenting on issues to city boards and commissions, non-profit forums, resident gatherings and more
  • A new website developed to make it easier to navigate and reflect your key priorities
  • Disseminating hundreds of GHSMC strategic plans in English and Spanish, shared the Healthy Streets publication, and more

Data Portal:

We have been working hard to provide a set of baseline conditions for the four priority areas of the GHSMC strategic plan. We wanted to provide the information in an accessible and interactive way.

  • We created our data portal with information on over 30 indicators and a vast number of maps and charts. We are adding new indicators and new cuts of existing indicators – disaagregating data by race, place and income where possible.
  • We’re also creating new and robust City Profiles to give each city a snapshot of their key indicators for health, as well as enable the user to compare and contrast cities.  

Healthy Economy:

This is the area we’ve had to grow our capacity the most. It’s exciting to be part of a Health System that takes action on new topics based on community input and a deep bench of research connecting income and wealth to health and health inequities. 

  • In recognition of the importance of economic opportunity and stability on health, we are working with the Health System’s Emergency Medical Services Division, Human Services Agency, and the Alameda County Health Services to explore support for a pilot workforce development program to diversity Emergency Medical Technicians in our County and provide career pathways for communities that have been disadvantaged. The pilot would support three to five San Mateo County disadvantaged youth to participate in the successful EMT Corps program in Alameda County and provide entry level positions at EMT’s in San Mateo County. 
  • GHSMC also partnered with the City of San Mateo to do research and provide data on the profile of low-wage workers as the city was exploring various wage policies and their implications. 

Healthy Housing:

Housing is a core foundation of any family or person. Without a roof over your head, it’s hard to think about eating healthy and getting exercise. 

  • GHSMC developed a solutions framework that responded to the urgency and complexity of the problem, called the 5 P’s. ​Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiatives, the coalition of nine County Health Departments in the Bay Area, adopted our 5-P’s framework for the region’s framework for addressing healthy housing issues. 
  1. Preservation of existing housing especially for housing that is affordable
  2. Production of housing at all affordability levels based on needs
  3. Protection of existing residents from displacement
  4. Placement of housing near transit and other amenities
  5. Participation of impacted communities in housing decisions that impact their lives.
  • We’re working with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and other regional groups to advance the need for housing production, affordability and anti-displacement as they develop the 24 year vision for transportation and development through Plan Bay Area. 
  • We are also responsive to requests from partners and cities, such as providing a recent literature review on the connections between eviction and health for an upcoming report  by GHSMC partners. 

Healthy Schools:

We’ve expanded our work from a sole focus on school wellness to including educational attainment. This is in response to community interest and research that link chronic and acute health issues to communities with less education. 

  • We’ve continued to co-host the School Wellness Alliance, ensuring a collective countywide conversation and education on key issues facing our students. 
  • We’ve been supporting the administration of the Youth Commission to continue to ensure diversity of youth voices and leadership in policymaking. 
  • We have also worked with School Wellness Alliance partners to develop a new module for the Children’s Healthy Kids Survey for San Mateo County. Once this gets rolled out, we will have more detailed information on the state of our students’ health across San Mateo County. We’ll be reaching out to all of you to support the dissemination of the survey once it’s available.  

Healthy Neighborhoods:

Complete, healthy places are our bread and butter work. This is where we’ve done the most work over the years and continues to be a big focus area for our partners. 

  • Our team is engaged in urban planning efforts across San Mateo County, with a focus on cities with the biggest health issues. We’ve been engaged in numerous efforts over the year, including South San Francisco Downtown Plan, Millbrae Station Area Plan, Brisbane’s Precise Plan, and East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Half Moon Bay’s General Plans –to name a few. Through our engagement we provide data and expertise on the four key priorities of GHSMC to advance healthy, equitable communities in every city in San Mateo County. 
  • GHSMC also conducted an analysis of transit deserts – looking at what populations across San Mateo County lack access to good public transportation options. 
  • We’ve been supporting efforts to connect locally sourced produce to institutions like schools and hospitals. 
  • We also analyzed pedestrian and bicycle collisions throughout the county, where we identified three key hotspots for collisions. We’re working on identifying policy and infrastructure opportunities to mitigate the concentration of collisions. 

Funding our Partners:

We simply can’t do this work alone. The agenda you set for us is vast and describes the work that many of you engage in every day. In recognition of your leadership on these issues, we make every effort to provide funding to GHSMC partners to advance the key priorities. 

  • In 2016, we provided the most funding ever by drawing down on our trust fund – approximately $250,000 to partners driving the new strategic plan priorities. These partners are doing exemplary and innovative work to educate the public, build leadership, and advance key policies and plans to build healthy, equitable communities. Here is a list of some of our current projects. 
  • We just closed our 2017 GHSMC Community Implementation Funding opportunity last week and received 26 applications! We’re in the process of reviewing the applications with an external panel of local experts and partners and will be sharing the final list of funded projects before the end of the year. Thanks to all those who applied and expressed interest. We continue to be amazed at your commitment to the work and your ingenuity for advancing solutions!

I hope you now have a sense of the work that we’ve been doing to support the GHSMC priorities you set for the collaborative last year. We know there is a lot more to do, and we’re dedicated to learning, partnering, and working hard to advance our collective vision of a healthy, equitable San Mateo County.

Thanks for all you do, every day, to advance health and equity for all of us in San Mateo County.