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Workforce Priorities

Things were quite different at the August 2016 HIPC! To set the stage for an interactive discussion on the health care workforce in Santa Cruz County, tables were removed and chairs rearranged in a horseshoe formation around a sticky board. John Melville, co-CEO of Collaborative Economics, led a process requiring self-reflection and vocal participation from HIPC attendees. Participants filled out note cards indicating opportunities/drivers for growth, then brainstormed requirements to capitalize on those opportunities. In John Melville’s expert hands, the cards began to tell a story about the priorities for workforce development in the Santa Cruz County health care sector. Two priorities emerged: talent development and care coordination.

Talent Development

With many health professionals in the area retiring, Santa Cruz County is falling behind in replacing these essential health care professionals. The August HIPC discussion brought back memories of the April 2015 HIP presentation by Caitlyn Conley, HIP Intern, focused a survey of UC Santa Cruz students. Based on the findings, Caitlin reported the main reasons UC graduates not pursuing careers in health care Santa Cruz County after graduation were cost-of-living and few mentorship opportunities and recruitment efforts aimed toward students in the health sciences. Furthermore, students in the area perceived Santa Cruz as a place to retire as opposed to build a career and family.

Recommendations by HIP participants that could mitigate the decreasing health care workforce included: increased support for and implementation of health focused recruitment/career development/residency and internship programs, expansion of specialized educational programs for a new wave of occupations that reflect the changing tide of healthcare (e.g., specialty nurses, community health workers, and primary care doctors with additional training in mental health and SUD), and the long-term enhancement of a youth-centered pipeline to STEM programs careers in healthcare.

Care Coordination

The other main priority identified by HIPC attendees was to improve not only coordination of care for patients, but also communication between providers from multiple organizations. During the HIPC prioritization session, attendees identified the following as issues to be addressed to strengthen coordination of care and communication: maximization of the health information exchange (HIE) with integration across all services, integration of the primary care to specialty care continuum, shared EMR, “Facebook newsfeed” as a care coordination tool, patient education initiatives, upstream promotion of nutrition and other activities to prevent chronic disease, culturally-based collaborative wellness efforts, and development of a County-wide care coordination definition and training.

HIP staff will be coordinating future engagement with Collaborative Economics and Santa Cruz County Workforce Investment Board to further this work. HIP will leverage recent care coordination efforts in the county around high utilizers, as well as other existing convening and infrastructure to develop a proposal for the Slingshot funding opportunity.

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