It has been a busy summer in Sacramento, and a productive one. I am pleased to report that the $308 billion 2022-23 state budget includes ambitious and important goals for improving and expanding healthcare for Californians, and some new means to help us accomplish them.
Notably for local health departments, the new budget includes $1.3 billion to fund stipends for retaining our state’s healthcare workers. We are all familiar with how the prolonged COVID-19 response has affected our workforce. Our team at Health Services has fought heroically to save lives and make our communities safer. This funding acknowledges that we need to retain our experienced workforce.
My hope is that this infusion of funding, atop last year’s $300 million investment in public health and alongside a new 3-year, $135 million training-grant program for health and human services workers, can begin to address critical funding needs that predated the pandemic.
There are other bright spots in the coming year’s budget. California will begin manufacturing its own supply of insulin to reduce costs for all who need it, and in 2024 will become first in the nation to offer Medi-Cal eligible residents universal access to healthcare coverage, regardless of immigration status.
This change makes hundreds of thousands of California residents newly eligible for Medi-Cal and addresses a gaping hole in the state healthcare system, which has relied upon local programs such as Contra Costa CARES to cover undocumented residents and others who do not qualify for Medi-Cal. We are grateful to the Board of Supervisors and County Administrator for extending funding for CARES through 2023, after which the state eligibility expansion takes effect.
California and other West Coast states are also working hard to ensure access to reproductive healthcare in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision. We applaud the state’s swift action to protect abortion providers and patients from civil liability, and for including $200 million in the budget to help reproductive care providers expand access and prepare for an expected influx of people coming from out of state who will need care.
I will keep you informed as we learn more about how best to use new resources presented in the state budget to advance good health for all Contra Costans. Thank you all, for all you do.
Health Director, Contra Costa County
Summer Safety Tips
Summer is singeing in the Bay Area. We are only in mid-July and have already dealt with extreme heat and wildfires. If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s to be prepared.
Temperatures recently soared into the triple digits. When extreme heat is forecast, we work with our county and city partners to make sure people know where they can go to stay cool and find respite from the heat.
Extreme heat can often be accompanied by wildfire events that bring unhealthy air into the Bay Area. Thanks to a grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Contra Costa Health (CCH) is working with several communities and school districts to make portable air filters that can be used to help provide clean indoor air during wildfire smoke events.
When the need arises, we are ready to work with our partners during a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event. During the PSPS events of 2019-2020, CCH offered several of its facilities as recharging stations for people with electric-dependent durable medical devices.
This situation should improve thanks to advances in electric grid technology that allow the power companies to narrow the footprint of future PSPS events and a commitment from PG&E to offer additional community recharging stations.
CCH also partners with Contra Costa 211 as a resource for people who need information or resources.
As we have seen with past PSPS events, wildfires and extreme heat – preparedness makes all the difference. No one can predict the outcome of an emergency, but it is reassuring to see coordination within Health Services and with our community partners.
Here are resources for summer safety:
COVID-19 Vaccines Available for Kids Under 5
Contra Costa Health started offering vaccine to children ages 6 months to 4 years – protecting some of our youngest residents from the COVID-19 virus.
Previously, vaccine had only been available for kids ages 5 and older. Parents can choose between two safe and effective pediatric vaccines by Pfizer (3 doses) and Moderna (2 doses). For more information, visit our Vaccine for Kids webpage.
With COVID-19 still widely circulating in Contra Costa and other parts of the Bay Area, it’s important to continue to take precautions against the spread of the virus.
While masking is optional for most indoor settings, CCH recommends wearing a high quality mask in public areas, especially while indoors.
Staying up to date on vaccinations is the best protection against severe disease from COVID. If you do test positive, free treatment may be available. You can find test to treat sites around the county or call our advice nurse line at (877) 661-6230.
Thank you for all you do to keep our communities healthy.
A3 – Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime
Contra Costa Health is working to address the unmet crisis behavioral health needs in Contra Costa County through A3.
A3 is an innovate approach to provide timely and appropriate behavioral health crisis services to anyone, anywhere at anytime in the county.
At the heart of this program is the Miles Hall Crisis Call Center – a high-tech call center staffed by both licensed behavioral health clinicians and peer staff. A3 team members triage crisis calls, provide field-based mental health crisis intervention, and connect people in crisis and their families to services and peer support.
We are filling several of these positions, including Mental Health Clinical Specialists, Substance Abuse Counselors, and hiring people with lived experience as Mental Health Community Support Workers. Anyone interested can find more information on our website.
To continue expanding this service, CCH plans to use our site at 1034 Oak Grove Road in Concord as the A3 campus. Expected to open at the end of 2023, the campus will house A3 services.
A3 currently operates Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. As services expand, A3 will provide free 24/7 emergency behavioral health support countywide. Anyone who needs support can call (833) 443-2672 during these hours.
Keeping Food Safe in Summer
Summer in Contra Costa is the perfect time to picnic, BBQ, camp and enjoy the outdoors. But the warm weather also creates the perfect environment to support the growth of harmful bacteria and sometimes a simple mistake can lead to serious illness.
Here are four simple tips to keep your food and family safe:
1. Wash your hands and surfaces often: Unwashed hands are the prime cause of foodborne illness.
- Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before, during and after preparing food and before eating. Common tasks that require hand washing after are handling raw meat, using the restroom, changing diapers or playing games and sports.
- Wash utensils, cutting boards and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each item.
- Rinse fruits and veggies.
2. Avoid cross-contamination: While preparing your meal this summer, be sure to keep your raw meat separate from fruits and veggies.
- Use separate cutting boards: one for meat and poultry, and another for fruits and veggies. Wash between each use, especially between raw meats.
- After cutting your meats and poultry, use a clean knife for produce.
- When packing a cooler, wrap raw meat to avoid raw meat juices coming in contact with other food.
3. Cook to the right temperature: You cannot tell if food is safely cooked by checking its color and texture.
- A food thermometer is the best way to make sure your grilled food is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill germs that make you sick.
- Poultry’s internal temperature should be 165°F and beef’s internal temperature should be a minimum of 155°F.
4. Proper Storage: Maintain food at proper temperatures
- Foods like meats and salads should never be left out at room temperature for over two hours.
- When the weather gets hot, above 90°F, don’t leave food out for more than an hour.
- Use your thermometer to check foods. Hold cold food items at 41°F or below.
- Pack your cooler with plenty of ice to keep foods cold.
- When in doubt, throw it out.
Service Excellence Awards
Service Excellence Awards acknowledge the care, skill and compassion Contra Costa Health employees bring to work each day.
I am excited to recognize the incredible work being done at CCH and acknowledge employees who have gone above and beyond for each other and our communities.
Please join me in celebrating and thanking each person who has been nominated. As you receive your Service Excellence Award, I hope you feel as much pride and gratitude as I do for our team at CCH.