Health by the Numbers
For over 50 years, Cabrillo College has been educating the Santa Cruz County with a variety of undergraduate, AA level, and certification classes. Cabrillo has robust programs focused on the medical field, such as Medical Assisting and Nursing. However, the facilities that house many of these classes are over 30 years old. Dr. Laurel Jones, Superintendent and President of Cabrillo College came to the HIP Council to petition support for Measure Q.
The Measure Q bond, which will be on the June ballot, proposes to fund $310 million to make repairs, renovate, and modernize 265, 270 square feet of the college facilities. These repairs are focused on upgrading and expanding classrooms that focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), such as the computer labs, and training facilities. The health related outcome that the bond will address is that by expanding classroom space and improving technological infrastructure, there would be more accommodated students in health related curriculum, a potential rise in graduates, and more students will be prepared post-graduation. Other health outcomes include the expansion of Mental Health Services to accommodate more confidential spaces for individual patients, group meeting, and extend counseling hours for providers.
While the outcomes of this Measure is in line with the health care goals of access and capacity that HIP members strive to accomplish, there are arguments against the bond. The approximate 30% who do not support this bill argue that the increased graduation rate is not a guaranteed fact, the additional cost to tax payers may be substantial, public disapproval of the bond from faculty staff who state there is no need for expansion, and the lack of a backup plan if the bond does not pass. As there is no unanimous consensus from the HIP Council to support this, HIP as an organization may not formally sponsor this bond. HIP, as an entity, encourages voters to decide.
Farewell to Healthy Kids
The Healthy Kids program is a product of 10 years of collaboration between the health care organizations in Santa Cruz. Established in 2005, Healthy Kids was an effort to avail insurance coverage to all children regardless of documentation status. On June 24th 2015, SB 75 was passed and signed by Governor Brown. With this passage, all kids regardless of immigration status may be approved for children will likely be enrolled, including the 700 children via Healthy Kids. With this implemented law, Healthy Kids will cease operations at the end of June 2016. We thank all those who have supported Healthy Kids. HIP, as a leader and supporter of Healthy Kids, is excited to see the next chapter in health care.
Dientes Needs Assessment
This year, Dientes Community Dental, in association with Barbara Aved Associates will be releasing results of the first ever study in the county dedicated to oral health access and dental disease prevalence. Using literature scans, CAP Surveys, interviews, data retrieval and analysis from Dientes, Salud Para La Gente and other partners, this needs assessment painted a broad picture on the strengths, weaknesses and emerging trends of dental care in Santa Cruz County. While the final report will be released with Monterey County data, Dientes Executive Director Laura Marcus and Barabara Aved, Consultant, presented the Santa Cruz County findings to the HIP Council, ahead of the official report release.
The study shows that Santa Cruz County’s unique landscape is a strength in providing dental services. Specifically, Santa Cruz has great leadership and relationships with stakeholders who advocate and support dental health, a supportive Medi-Cal Managed Care Contractor through the Alliance, a collaborative and passionate Safety Net, and strong focus on providing dental hygiene to children through Denti-Cal.
However, Santa Cruz still faces many challenges in improving dental health, mostly in adults. These include a decline in dental benefits and income for adults, a 58% decrease access to dental insurance, Dental Transformation Initiative does not benefit adults, Denti-Cal reimbursement rates are among the worst reimbursement programs in the nation, and 72.5% Emergency Department visits are preventable dental visits.
The dental needs assessment shows that Santa Cruz cares about the landscape of dental health in this community and Dientes will be leading the next steps in addressing the challenges. Dientes is putting together a steering committee to begin in June, with Nicole Lezin as the facilitator. This steering committee will be made up of Safety Net leaders, health providers, stakeholders, and social service organizations such as Second Harvest.