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Improve the overall health and well-being of all County employees, residents,

and visitors and eliminate health inequities to minimize the potential

impacts of disasters and climate change on the most vulnerable residents.

Goal #5. Healthy Communities

Recognizing the many connections between the built environment and health, the County of Santa Clara was one of the first counties in the state to adopt an element of their General Plan focused on improving community health through land use planning. Furthermore, the County’s Health and Hospital System accounts for approximately 45% of the County’s annual General Fund expenditures, not including the many County programs outside the Health & Hospital System that also focus on keeping community members healthy (e.g., Environmental Health, Employee Wellness, Senior Nutrition, Medi-Cal enrollment).


The County will continue to provide and support policies, programs, and resources that help residents be healthy at all stages of life. It will also work to reduce inequities along the full spectrum of health interventions, from prevention to clinical care, providing routine medical care and screenings, and treating injuries and illnesses when they happen, by shaping policies that improve social determinants of health, educating residents about healthy choices and risk behaviors, and helping people meet basic needs. 

Associated Policies and Plans

How will we get there?

While Santa Clara County residents are generally smoking less, getting vaccinated more, and practicing safe sex, some health outcomes are getting worse due to poor nutrition and lower physical activity, driving an increase in chronic disease among adult residents. Youth in the County are also experiencing an increase in chronic disease driven by soda consumption, tobacco use, and the physical and mental health impacts of being bullied.

The most effective way to improve health of populations and of particular communities or groups, and people’s overall quality of life, is to prevent disease and injuries, especially for historically marginalized communities (whose members experience worse health outcomes due to structural and institutional inequities and the chronic stress of experiencing conscious and unintended discrimination). The County’s Public Health Department will continue to develop multi-sector collaborations to promote healthy lifestyles, create healthy environments, and advocate for policy and systems changes. The department will also continue to prepare for and respond to the potential public health impacts of climate change including infectious diseases and extreme weather that endangers the health and lives of community members.

Strategy 5.1 Targets and Key Performance Indicators

Countywide Target:

  • Improve health outcomes and well-being for the County’s most historically marginalized and vulnerable communities through population health approaches.

Existing Programs, Policies, and Activities:

  • Santa Clara County Partners for Health collaboration (implementing SCC Community Health Improvement Project)

  • Whole Person Care, Health System

  • Valley Homeless Healthcare Program and other community clinics, Health System

  • East San Jose Prevention Efforts Advance Community Equity Partnership (PEACE Partnership); Active & Peaceful Gilroy

  • Prevention programs at Public Health Department (Chronic Disease & Injury Prevention, Infectious Disease & Response; Maternal, Child, and Family Health; Health Equity Unit, etc.), Behavioral Health Services Department (Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), etc.), and First 5 Santa Clara County

  • Community Rx programs (Clinic-to-Community Diabetes Prevention; Parks Rx; Ask, Advise Refer) that create strong bi-directional relationships between health systems and community resources

  • Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN) - energy efficiency retrofits to improve health

  • Strengthening All Families Equitably (SAFE) County-Wide Prevention (Cross-Agency Service Team (CAST)

The County under the Health & Hospital System directly provides insurance coverage and health care services for residents and also contracts with non-governmental agencies to provide additional health services. The County’s strong relationships with community health centers and non-governmental healthcare entities (e.g., Kaiser Permanente, Stanford Health Care, Good Samaritan Health System) position the County to significantly reduce barriers to accessing healthcare, increase the number of patients that learn about health issues that they may experience as a result of climate change, as well as ways to keep themselves safe.

The County will continue to provide and support these essential services and resources and will make them more accessible. The County will also work with County employees and other healthcare providers to address how the changing global climate may impact patients (e.g., heat stroke during extreme heat days, mold in patients’ homes who have asthma following flooding, increased food insecurity). Furthermore, shifting some medical appointments to telehealth platforms can increase preventative healthcare utilization for older adults, people with disabilities, parents with young children, and others simply by making it more convenient to schedule and will reduce vehicle related emissions.

Strategy 5.2 Targets and Key Performance Indicators

Existing Programs, Policies, and Activities:

  • Community Connect/HealthLink (the County’s integrated Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system)

  • Initiatives to address language barriers, to implement Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) standards, and to address other barriers to utilizing care

  • Strengthen Public Health Professional Core Competency and Skills (2019-2022 County of Santa Clara Public Health Department Strategic Plan)

  • myHealth online patient portal enhancements

  • Telehealth platform expanded during COVID-19 pandemic

Countywide Target:

  • Improve access to infrastructure to support the increased utilization of telehealth (phone or audio-video) services.

  • Increase timely access to healthcare services by meeting or exceeding access standards.

Ensure pandemics and climate hazards are addressed in the provision of

health care services, assess regional and local medical systems, refine emergency

response programs for climate change, and train County health professionals to recognize

and manage emerging health threats associated with pandemics and climate change.

Strategy 5.2 - Health System and Access to Care

Strategy 5.1
Strategy 5.2
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