Message From The Director
Recognizing Our Past as We Move Forward
As the new Health Services Director of Contra Costa County, I assume my new responsibilities with both pleasure and humility. Following in the footsteps of Dr. Walker is no small task. His experience, breadth of knowledge and accomplishments are widely recognized, both locally and nationally. Fortunately, as I enter this new role, Dr. Walker has agreed to continue to work alongside me and oversee government affairs for CCHS to ensure that the gains made during his tenure are maintained. Professionally, I extend my gratitude to him for his extraordinary leadership and inspiration during his long and celebrated career. Personally, I thank Dr. Walker for the faith he's shown in me during my tenure over the last decade as CEO of Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, Health Centers and Detention Health.
I also want to thank all of you for your support during this transition period. It is an honor to be chosen for this position. I appreciate the magnitude of the task ahead of me and take seriously the responsibility to our elected leaders, our staff and especially our 1.1 million residents.
Protecting and promoting the health of all Contra Costans is a huge task. I'm fortunate to have such an outstanding, talented and passionate staff and engaged community to help make that a reality. As a local health department, Contra Costa Health Services has long been recognized as one of the most innovative and integrated in the state. I want to continue that work, with the understanding that we have both the duty and opportunity to work with all of our communities to create and ensure well-being, with particular attention to the most vulnerable among us.
During the next few months, I'll be learning about the diverse work that we do all over Contra Costa, whether it is inspecting restaurants and swimming pools, collaborating with community partners to develop career pathways for our young people, visiting with families in their homes, or providing dental care in a school clinic. I hope to see you on a tour, at a staff meeting or at a community meeting. Please introduce yourself in person or write me an email – I want to hear about what you do, what makes you proud and what can be improved. I look forward to hearing from you, and sharing with you what I learn as we move forward together during this time of transition.
A Fond Farewell
New Leadership - Bright Future
Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) has a bright future thanks to the Board of Supervisors' decision to appoint Anna Roth as the new director of our department. After a nationwide search with more than 200 candidates, Anna emerged as the logical choice.
Anna is well grounded in our system. She has spent her career with us in various roles, including the chief executive officer of our hospital, health centers and detention health. Anna has attained world-class training at Harvard School of Public Health and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Most importantly, Anna has the heart and passion for those with whom she works and those that are most vulnerable in our community. Therefore, she will keep us focused on our mission. She is ideally suited to lead CCHS into the exciting and challenging years ahead.
In my 44 years working for CCHS, I've seen our system grow into a nationally recognized, comprehensive health agency. I am proud of the many accomplishments we achieved over the last few decades, but what I treasure most are the personal relationships I developed through the years with patients in my family medical practice and the friendships and partnerships with all the talented staff, managers and leaders at CCHS.
You Are the Reason I Stayed
What has kept me here for over four decades is the love and respect that I have for all of you who have also committed your professional lives to the health and welfare of our community. Health Services is a family and a place where we support each other and demonstrate that love and caring in the communities that we serve. The care we give and receive is what really matters in life.
I will continue to handle government affairs and will serve as health officer until a new one is appointed. I am confident leaving the leadership of the department in Anna's capable hands.
Going the Extra Mile:
These CCHS Employees are GEMs
Click here to find out how the people named below went the extra mile.
Diane Dorton, RN
Respite Dental Team
Kimberly Cullom, RN
Svetlana Sandeno, RN
Roweena Marcelino, RN
Maria Custodio, RN
Jose "Tony" Ortiz
Deputy Elizabeth Miles
Karen Kelly, RN
Contra Costa Launches Rapid Response Team and Hotline to Help Immigrant Families
On March 1, Contra Costa County launched a program that provides rapid-response deportation defense services, a 24-hour hotline, and training and education for families in need of immediate immigration legal assistance.
"Unfortunately, with the hate and threats against immigrant families, many have not been able to access legal help to ensure due process rights are protected," Supervisor John Gioia recently told the East Bay Times. "We're standing up for all families in Contra Costa and preventing families from being split up."
CCHS staff contacted department management after news reports of ICE raids throughout the Bay Area raised concerns among our patients/clients/consumers.
CCHS Director Anna Roth sent an all-staff message earlier this month informing employees about the Stand Together program and reiterating the department's commitment to all residents.
"It's important for all to know that we remain committed to everyone in need of and who are eligible for our services, regardless of immigration status," Anna wrote.
CCHS staff should continue to encourage patients/clients/consumers to seek care and services and remain focused on our mission to care for and improve the health of all people in Contra Costa County with special attention to those who are most vulnerable to health problems.
To keep our community informed public service announcement in English and Spanish are running on the TVs in some of our clinics and red cards that inform our immigrant community of their legal rights are available in our patient areas and can be requested from communications officer Victoria Balladares.
Women, Infants & Children
WIC Outreach Aims to Attract More Clients
To improve its enrollment rates, Contra Costa's Women, Infants & Children (WIC) program is expanding partnerships and increasing promotion of its services, including a paid digital media campaign.
WIC is a federally-funded supplemental nutrition program for low-income women and their children. Unfortunately, the WIC participation rate has been declining nationwide since 2010. A recent survey estimated that 54,000 Californians were eligible but not participating in WIC, perhaps due to extensive program requirements, stigma, and participant uncertainties regarding immigration issues.
To combat this trend, Contra Costa WIC recently began partnering with the Healthy Start program to provide breastfeeding education to patients at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center & Health Centers. This partnership has introduced WIC's services to eligible populations that were not accessing the program.
WIC has also begun working with CalFresh to mutually refer eligible clients to each other's programs.
In recent months, WIC has also been engaging in a successful digital media campaign to raise awareness of the program. Paid ads on Google and Facebook link people to an online WIC application. As a result, WIC's caseload in February 2018 was higher than it was a year earlier, said WIC Director Raz Moghbel.
To improve the current declining caseload, the California State WIC Program plans to implement the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. Using an EBT card instead of paper checks should contribute to a faster and more dignified shopping experience for participants. WIC also introduced a new mobile-friendly website, which allows quick access to appointments and resource lists.
Please refer eligible families to our website at cchealth.org/wic or have them call toll free 1-800-414-4WIC.
Hansen's Disease Clinic Closes
CCHS recently had to shut down a specialty clinic for patients with Hansen's Disease, also known as leprosy, after federal funding ran out. The Contra Costa clinic was one of only a handful of ambulatory sites for Hansen's Disease on the West Coast.
Many of our Hansen's patients, who often came from other counties and even other states, have been transitioned to care to providers closer to their homes. CCHS will continue caring for those who live in Contra Costa County, said CCHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Samir Shah.
The Hansen's clinic at the Martinez Health Center had been in operation since 1995. Dr. Sonia Sutherland and Dr. Ken Saffier have served as providers at the clinic since it started.
After being notified of the closure, one Hansen's patient wrote one of his caregivers in Contra Costa: "It's sad and difficult news to hear about. I came to know so many wonderful people in your clinic over so many many years. They greeted me with open arms, took care of me and treated me like a family member."
It's Ambulatory Care – Literally
Several of our primary care doctors will soon begin taking walks with their patients as part of a national healthy lifestyle campaign called Walk With a Doc.
The therapeutic walks are open to the public and don't require an appointment. Many of the walks will take place following group visits to make it easier for our patients to join the fun, said Dr. Cinnie Chou, a participating provider at our Pittsburg Health Center. The schedules for the Contra Costa walks are available online.
Contra Costa is the first health system in the Bay Area to participate in the Walk With a Doc program, said Dr. Alan Siegel, who helped initiate the local initiative.
Dr. Siegel will kick things off on March 31 with a trip to Kennedy Grove in El Sobrante. Patients will meet at WCHC and take a bus to the park. The inaugural walk will include expressive arts and a kickoff party.
Other participating providers include Nathan Brooks and Marcie Richmond from Pittsburg Health Center; medical residents Jessie Liu and Joshua Back; and Sherilynn Cooke from Kaiser.
New Permit Required for Trash Haulers in Unincorporated Contra Costa
Businesses hired to collect junk, appliances, construction debris and other solid waste in the unincorporated areas of Contra Costa County now need permits issued by Contra Costa Environmental Health (CCEH).
The Board of Supervisors recently changed the county ordinance to require a Non-Franchise Solid Waste Collection & Transport Permit, to curb illegal dumping and other environmentally unfriendly practices.
Franchised waste haulers (the weekly curbside pickup) are exempt from the new rule, as are contractors taking construction or landscaping debris from a job site directly to an approved facility. Property owners can also still haul their own waste without a permit.
For businesses collecting solid waste in the unincorporated areas of the county, the annual permits were required beginning March 1. Hauling solid waste without a permit may result in fines.
CCEH screens all permit applicants to ensure they carry adequate insurance, obtain performance bonds and know the county rules about collecting and transporting solid waste.
CCEH also inspects all permitted vehicles annually, and issues permit decals to each vehicle.
Visit the Environmental Health website for more information.
HazMat and EMS Participate in Emergency Exercise
The Hazardous Materials Division participated in the Statewide Medical Health Exercise (SWMHE) with multiple agencies, including El Cerrito Fire, Richmond Fire, Contra Costa County Sheriff, and our Emergency Medical Services Division. The Feb. 15 exercise simulated a nerve agent release on a bus with volunteer victims played by students from Dozier-Libbey Medical High School.
El Cerrito Fire responders were the first on scene and identified the need to call for additional resources from multiple agencies. Responders from Richmond Fire and our Hazmat Team suited up in level A (fully encapsulated chemical protective suits) to rescue volunteers victims and to mitigate the scene. A variety of specialized equipment was used to help detect, locate and identify the agent released.
The exercise required the victims to be decontaminated and treated for their symptoms. The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office was able to bring life-saving antidotes to the scene for timely administration to the victims. The drill allowed agencies to practice communications and involvement in a joint response to a large scale incident.
CCHP Outreach Effort Assesses New Members' Health Risks
All new Medi-Cal members are now being sent a health risk assessment form by Contra Costa Health Plan (CCHP) after they enroll in order for them to identify their medical issues and needs, as well as social determinants of health, such as food, housing and transportation.
After the forms are returned, CCHP will send education materials and resource information to those members based on their expressed needs. Urgent expressed needs will be flagged for case management intervention.
The completed assessments are shared with providers in CCHP's two networks: the Community Provider Network and the CCRMC (county) network.
Nurses at County health centers are now using the assessments as part of their onboarding process for new patients who have scheduled their first appointments.
CCHP had already been sending the risk assessments to senior members and members with disabilities since 2011. The Health Plan expanded its outreach in January to comply with new state requirements.
To improve participation, CCHP will be using a sophisticated robocalling system that will make followup calls and complete the assessments by phone after the initial form is mailed.
Culture of Continuous Improvement
New Class of Change Agent Fellows Gets Started
Back row (L to R): David Seidner, Giuliana Tambellini Damiens, Rashaad Pritchett, Miriam Rosa, Adam Down, Brenda Reida, Jesse Allured, Natasha Petit, Jessica Kant
Front row (L to R): Matthew White, Elizabeth Oberholtzer, Melissa Anino, Myra Millena, Gino Lobrigida Rogers
The 2018-19 Change Agent Fellowship class began its 12-month journey earlier this month. The Fellowship strives to create an environment for emerging leaders to develop improvement and change management skills to respond to the needs of the community and the rapidly evolving challenges of today's health care. Congratulations to all the new fellows on their selection to the program!
Dr. Walker Earns Myers Award for a Career Devoted to Public Health
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has named Dr. William B. Walker as the 2018 recipient of the Beverlee A. Myers Award for Excellence in Public Health, an honor recognizing dedication and leadership in improving the health of Californians.
Dr. Walker, who retired as Health Services Director in January after a 44-year career serving Contra Costa County, will receive the award in Sacramento next month.
Under Dr. Walker's leadership, Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) became widely recognized as a public health trailblazer at the forefront of health policy for the public good, such as regulating secondhand smoke, confronting the obesity epidemic, implementing health reform and addressing health disparities.
CCHS is proud to have served under Dr. Walker, and will continue his mission to care for and improve the health of all people in Contra Costa County, with special attention to those who are most vulnerable to health problems.
Thanks to these employees who have given us long years of service:
Mark Condit, Mildred Gilbeaux, Yvonne Webster, Theresa Horvath, William Sorrell, Editha Guevarra, Edward Henry, Stacey Tupper
Rosa Jaureque, Noel Gatmaitan, Candace Tao, Katherine Jackson-Moore, Vanessa Cordier, Todd Chamberlin
Martha Rodriguez, Jeffrey Jarmin, Jennifer Glassow, Linda Lu, Mary Serb, Annie Cherayil, Dalene Deluca, Erika Mendoza, Lynnette Watts, Maricel Flores, Michelle Flores, Debra White, Christine Chambers, Josefina Pabros, Vicky Dejose, Angelica Barragan, Kimberly Davey
Jacquelyn White, Ira-Beda Sabio, Karenin Reyes, Sara Royer, Juan Coras, Marlon Epps, Christine Porter, Raz Moghbel, Marcos Aguilar, Kristina Kutter, Michelle Roybal, Candice Litteral, Aide Picazo-Hernandez, Hala Fattah, Kimberly Sanchez, Razhel Sendaydiego, Arturo Hernandez, Nicole Forrest, Denise Mata, Lucy Delos Reyes, Michael Shaw, Kathlene Reiter, Donald Dominguez, Audra Harvey, Shawn Sekel, Iris Holland
Gerold Loenicker, Alishia Abbott, Juventina Avila, Kenneth Underwood, Sean Gendreau, Lynn Warner, Anne Andreasen, Mahjobeh Rezazadeh, Sala Miller, Laura DeLa Torre, Nadja Renfro, Sybil Meyer, Charlene Evans, Evelyn Desoto, Louis Legrancois, Brian Torres, Lorena Borrego-Moncada, Tieaesha Gaines, Christine Bohorquez, Christopher Hammel, Devra Lewis, Elizabeth Paez, Matthew Kaufmann, Trisha Asuncion, Margaret Pena, Patricia Oliveira Weisenberger, Christopher Blubaugh, George Flores, Samuel Dugao, Sana Mazhar, Christine Duran, Julia Santos and Mariana Martinez
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