Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust Hosts Diabetes Forum
On Friday, March 23, the Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust hosted the 15th Annual Diabetes Forum. The Forum, convened the Health Trust’s Regional Diabetes Collaborative, explored the theme Healthcare Beyond the Clinic: Addressing the Social Determinants of Health.
Kaiser Permanente, Palo Alto Medical Foundation/Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center Santa Cruz, Watsonville Community Hospital, Santa Cruz Naturals and Dignity Health/Dominican Hospital sponsored the event. Approximately 80 participants filled the King Community Room at the Health Trust, including representatives from Second Harvest Food Bank, Salud Para la Gente, PVUSD, El Pajaro CDC, the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County and the County’s Health Services Agency, among others.
Caitlin Brune, CEO of the Health Trust, opened the day by observing that health outcomes in the U.S. continue to lag behind other middle- and upper-income countries. She remarked, “Factors in our environment – neighborhood safety, housing quality, the presence or absence of economic opportunities, access to green space and libraries – have a bearing on health and well-being. Indeed, recent research indicates that zip code is a stronger predictor of a person’s health than his or her genetic code.”
Shelly Barker, Projects Manager at the Health Improvement Partnership of Santa Cruz County and facilitator for the forum, shared how worries over making one’s monthly rent payment function as obstacles to seeking and obtaining necessary health and social services. Survival needs — food, shelter and safety — naturally take precedence and may be overlooked in healthcare settings.
Elsa Mendoza Jimenez, Director of Monterey County Health Department, acknowledged that only 20% of health outcomes and longevity is due to access to clinical care. “Eighty percent is due to where we live,” Ms. Jimenez noted. In 2017 Monterey County Health Department received the Arnold Perkins Award for excellence in public health from a field of more than 300 candidates for its innovative and far-reaching implementation of Health in All Policies.
Following Ms. Jimenez was MidPen Housing’s Director of Housing Development for the Central Coast region, Betsy Nahas Wilson, and Director of Resident Services for Seniors, John Savage. She and Mr. Savage highlighted MidPen’s approach to housing development, which Mr. Savage summarized as, “Housing is healthcare.” Ms. Wilson cited that political will, coupled with creative financing partnerships between nonprofits and the City, and greater public support for increased housing density could lead to dramatic progress in resolving the region’s affordable housing crisis.
Maria Cadenas, Executive Director of Santa Cruz Community Ventures, described a vision of greeting every newborn in Santa Cruz County with a $25 deposit into a college savings account (CSA). Children with CSAs are three times more likely to attend college, Ms. Cadenas remarked.
Reid Norris, Executive Director of Everyone’s Harvest in Marina, shared how doctors’ prescriptions for fresh produce leads to improved nutrition and health status for low-income individuals who face food insecurity or who are struggling with diet-linked chronic diseases, including diabetes.
Rich Puente, Pajaro Valley Unified School District Administrator of the Health Start Collaborative, observed how school-based health and fitness activities and Family Resource Centers based at school sites can promote early intervention that sets children on a path toward lifelong health. CalFresh benefits, and Second Harvest’s Food for Children program, all of which are intended to foster well-being and good health.
The forum’s audio file and slide presentations will be available on the Health Trust’s website: www.pvhealthtrust.org. For information about how you can help locally to address the social determinants of health, contact Veronica Camberos, Director of Programs at the Health Trust, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 831-761-5639.