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HIP Council Meeting: Health Workforce Council Achievements & High Road Training Partnership Grant

Earlier this month, the Health Improvement Partnership of Santa Cruz County (HIP) held an in-person council meeting to learn about the Health Workforce Council's achievements and the plan for continuing healthcare workforce improvements over the next three years with funding from the California Workforce Development Board High Road Training Partnership Resilient Workforce Program (HRTP RWP) grant.

The event featured guest speakers leading Health Workforce Council (HWC) monthly workgroups, Anna Sutton, Director of Nursing with Santa Cruz County Health Service Agency, and Jasmine Nájera, Chief Executive Officer with Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance. The HWC aims to build, strengthen, and diversify Santa Cruz County’s healthcare workforce with qualified individuals who can best support and provide health services to the community and seeks to increase opportunities for Santa Cruz County residents to advance in health professions and align and expand education and training through pipeline programs, work-based learning, and continued professional development for incumbent workers.

Anna Sutton spoke on the increasing demand for nurse workforce and the accomplishments of the Santa Cruz County Nursing Workforce Council. The Nursing Workforce Council has been meeting monthly since August 2022 to discuss solutions to increase and retain the nurse workforce. Their efforts resulted in a public proclamation to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors declaring May 6-12, 2023 as National Nurses Week in Santa Cruz County (link to proclamation) and securing grant funding to provide 50 scholarships for nurses across Santa Cruz County to attend 1440 Multiversity’s Healing Our Healthcare Heroes nurse retreat in August 2023.

Sutton shares, “The creation and sustained efforts to bring nursing champions together in Santa Cruz County have created connection and engagement in this healthcare discipline. I am so inspired by the support and passion that our community leaders have shown in supporting nursing and our value in healthcare and addressing health equity. The connections made across nursing sectors through this workforce council have built resilience in our profession. Thank you HIP and partners across Santa Cruz county for advocating for nursing!”

Jasmine Nájera, who facilitates the monthly Integrated Behavioral Health Action Coalition (IBHAC) Workforce meetings, shared the pressing need for mental health providers in Santa Cruz County and acknowledged the importance of non-profit leadership to support providers thriving in the workplace, sharing a statistic that managers have as much of an impact on employees mental health as their spouse (both 69%) and even more of an impact than their doctor (51%) or therapist (41%). Nájera reflects, “It is key for organizations to grow and cultivate our own, through internships and mentorship opportunities. I encourage healthcare leaders to create pathways and opportunities for youth in advance in health professions to sustain our local healthcare workforce.”

One effort underway to address the shortage of associate-level mental health providers is a regional collaboration with Motivo Health - an online clinical supervision platform. Through the IBHAC Workforce discussions with Motivo, organizations in Santa Cruz County are being offered a 25% discount on supervision rates; to date, this has increased the workforce by ~19 associate-level providers. Additionally, the workgroup plans to apply for California Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) Health Professions Pathway Program (HPPP) funding for summer internships for college students interested in health careers.

The event also included an overview of the HWC achievements for the past year, presented by Hayley Mears, Workforce Development Program Manager at HIP, among those highlighted are the Monterey Bay Community Health Worker Collaborative public proclamation to the Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties Board of Supervisors declaring August 28- Sept 1, 2023, as National Community Health Workers Week in both counties (link to proclamation) - the presentation was recorded at the Monterey County meeting (link to video), a Medical Assistant Externship Best Practices Guide, progress on identifying and documenting current physician pipeline initiatives and implementing Futuro Health’s new Surgical Technician program once the program is launched this fall.

Additionally, the HRTP RWP grant deliverables were outlined with high-level outcomes and goals for the next three years; among these is re-engaging local healthcare organizations in a listening tour next April through June 2024 to identify workforce challenges and strategies. Attendees were invited to further engage in the Health Workforce Council’s projects. For more information about HIP’s Workforce Development program, please visit

The event wrapped with Allison Guevara, social impact consultant with HIP, leading attendees in a mid-year check-in on personal leadership and organizational goals through a series of exercises that allowed them to inspire and learn from each other, celebrate their individual and collective successes, and gain insight into how they are navigating challenges. Attendees were asked to write down and reflect with the group on any changes or challenges, including the workforce, that are coming up and what is enabling or supporting them in making progress on their goals. Input provided by leadership at the event will help inform HIP in developing its strategic goals for 2024 and the best ways to support healthcare partners.

HIPC Presentation
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