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Newly Formed Leadership Team for South County Health

Updated August 8, 2013


South County: United for Health Celebrates Newly Formed Leadership Team to Enhance Project's Important Work

Santa Clara County, CA. A project to improve the health of some of Santa Clara County’s smallest communities is getting a boost. “South County: United for Health’s” new leadership team, made up of members from a variety of backgrounds, includes key community stakeholders crucial to reaching the goal of improving the health of south Santa Clara County residents.

“South County: United for Health” was formed after the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department received Community Transformation Grant (CTG) funding from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) in October 2012. The project focuses on making improvements in several key areas: weight, nutrition, physical activity, tobacco exposure, and social and emotional wellness.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Mike Wasserman is the CTG Leadership Chair, and Erin O’Brien, CEO of Community Solutions, is the Co-Chair. A key role for the chairs is to inspire the community to create change in the physical environment and support organizational changes that prevent chronic diseases and foster social and emotional wellness.

“We are fortunate to have so many of our community's strongest leaders as part of CTG's Leadership Team,” said County Supervisor Mike Wasserman. “Their diverse backgrounds and creative ideas will lead to the solutions we need to greatly improve the long-term health and well-being of our community.”

The specific target area of the project includes more than 93,000 residents in Gilroy and Morgan Hill, and parts of unincorporated San Martin. The grant emphasizes implementing long lasting solutions to address health disparities and improve health outcomes among low income and Latino residents.

The leadership team includes representatives from the City of Gilroy, City of Morgan Hill, County of Santa Clara Mental Health and Public Health Departments, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, Morgan Hill and Gilroy Police Departments, Gilroy and Morgan Hill School Districts, St. Louise Regional Hospital, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, Senator Bill Monning, Rene Santiago of Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System, and Reymundo Espinosa of Gardner Family Health Network.

Residents living in South Santa Clara County have higher rates of many chronic diseases, as compared to residents in other areas of Santa Clara County. The cost of these conditions is staggering; 75 cents of every dollar spent on medical costs are used to treat them. These costs do not include missed days of work or school, lost productivity, disability, reduced quality of life, and premature death.

The new leadership team will guide project implementation, identify ways to promote CTG strategies, and leverage resources. In addition, the team will implement strategies and policy changes in their own organizations, such as providing healthy food and beverage options at meetings and events. They will also work to develop relationships in the community that are crucial to important work of the project. The work on the grant will go through September 2014.


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