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COVID-19 & HIP Partner Support

At our last HIPC meeting, convened virtually, we heard from Santa Cruz County Public Health Officer, Dr. Gail Newel, about the current state of COVID-19 in our area. As we have learned over the past month, COVID-19 related news shifts daily as new data and updates avail themselves every day. On March 28th, officials regretfully announced the first death of a county resident. Dr. Newel stated that the lack of testing capacity is still hindering our ability to respond to the outbreak. While there is no shortage of concerning news, Dr. Newel assures county residents that the shelter-in-place order, as well as physical distancing orders, appear to be working well and that everyone should continue to follow these guidelines.

As the HIP team continues to facilitate a variety of other projects, programs, and events, priorities have shifted to assist partners in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. During this unprecedented time, HIP is serving as a lead coordinator and communications hub for information flows that involve the County Health Services Agency, the County Human Services Department, the Chief Administrative Officer’s office, the Central California Alliance for Health, community health centers, and other health and human service professionals, especially those serving underserved and vulnerable community members.

Specifically, HIP has been hosting a weekly call for clinicians and county officials on behalf of County Public Health. These calls serve as a platform for updates, best practice sharing, and data trends discussions. This communication venue for medical providers is warranted to ensure that healthcare partners feel supported in their efforts to provide accurate evaluation and clinical management of COVID-19 patients.

Furthermore, in alignment with HIP’s aim to facilitate seamless interagency communication, Maritza Lara, HIP Program Manager, has taken on the multifaceted role of HIP COVID-19 Project Lead, where she works to maintain clear and effective communication, manage organizational leadership convenings, and much more. On behalf of, and at the request of the Safety Net Clinic Coalition (SNCC), HIP has also established a COVID-19 response team. Using the Slack messaging platform, the team is able to facilitate communication and strategy across entities and throughout the county by ensuring that information and resources are shared effectively and timely, that resources are leveraged, and that duplication is reduced to achieve consistent prevention, control, and care across the county. Lastly, the team is also working to increase access to, and awareness of a volunteer workforce for organizations that are in need of extra assistance.

As more resources and information become available, the HIP COVID-19 project team will ensure that all partners receive notice. For questions, please contact Maritza directly at

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