Health, Equity, and Learning Collaborative
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To lift the voices of California's San Joaquin Valley rural communities by connecting available resources and bringing policy changes needed to improve health.
What is Health Equity?
The Rural HEAL Collaborative is passionate about improving health, education and economic outcomes in rural communities throughout California's San Joaquin Valley.
Our methodology for engagement takes the shape of effective partnerships, which are essential for community-based solutions for advancing health equity. By facilitating a shared vision and values, we work to increase communities' capacities to shape outcomes, and foster multi-sector collaboration for the benefit of all.
The HEAL Collaborative is located in an ethnically and economically diverse geographic region, offering the relevant research capacity and ability to link to rural areas together. Within our region, we understand how the lack of access to education, food, and economic opportunities leads to medical deserts and chronic disease epidemics. As a result of our education, health, NGO, industry and political partnerships, we see how collaboration breeds innovation to tackle the challenges of building and sustaining healthy, rural communities.
The 26,000-square miles of the San Joaquin Valley, from Merced to Kern County, constitutes a significant population of low-income rural residents with the nation's lowest educational attainment. The lack of education translates to reduced employment opportunities, increased poverty, and limited access to healthcare. In California's Central Valley, like rural communities across America, residents encounter meager resources to improve workforce and economic development. Likewise, rural communities experience few opportunities to carry out research and evaluate failing systems or leverage social and political power to eliminate health inequities. Ensuring that rural San Joaquin Valley communities meet workforce demands and attain economic stability is integral to the success of our nation. In rural regions, where populations are more dispersed and farther from major job centers, labor markets face different challenges than those in metro areas, where people are closer to education, training, and employment options.
As we continue to build the HEAL Collaborative, ongoing dialogue and strategic convenings among partners and interested others are critical to creating systemic change that improves the health and socioeconomic stability of rural communities across the nation.
The HEAL Advisory Committee consists of regional partners representing four academic hubs located in the San Joaquin Valley: UC Merced, UC San Francisco at Fresno, CSU Fresno Central Valley Health Policy Institute (CVHPI), and Bakersfield College (BC).
The HEAL Collaborative engages in various pilot projects and initiatives that catalyze efforts to address rural health inequities, educational attainment, workforce demands, and improve wellness, using this three-pronged approach:
- Develops and scales regionally high demand high wage pathways in education and health sciences
- Establishes programs that meet rural workforce development needs
- Focuses on advancing rural health equity and improving well-being to foster social and economic mobility of rural American families through the lens of research projects and community outreach in California's Central Valley
HEAL's short- and long-term strategic priorities encompass an overarching commitment to serve as a catalyst for local, state and national collaboration and as a progressive, creative force on behalf of all rural health constituencies/communities.
HEAL's Strategic Priorities
To fulfill our mission and implement vision, HEAL will:
- Advocate for rural health and healthy communities by informing policy makers and stakeholders about Central Valley circumstances
- Launch pilot studies designed to create regional outreach toolkits and trainings addressing rural health, food security, and well-being
- Strengthen the regional workforce and economy
- Engage in regional dialog to engender policy creation at the national level
- Enhance rural economic and community growth across the nation through a linked network of information, resources and political action
- Generate funding to ensure that resources are commensurate with rural community needs.
- February 2021: Virtual Seminar - COVID-19 Vaccinations with Dr. Michael Saag
- November 2020: HEAL Webinar - Salud Mental y Bienestar Durante el COVID-19 (Mental
Health and Wellbeing During COVID-19)
November 2020 Recording
- September 2020: HEAL Webinar - Public Health Strategies: COVID-19 and the Central Valley
- March 2020: HEAL Summit - Persistent Poverty and Its Effects on Rural America: A Central Valley Perspective (Postponed)
- November 2019: HEAL Summit - Rural Poverty and Health Equity
HEAL's Health-Focused Initiatives
- UC Merced's STOP COVID-19 Research Study
- CSU Fresno CVHPI's leadership with the COVID-19 Equity Project (CEP)
- BC's leadership in the Kern County Latino COVID-19 Task Force
- UC Merced and BC's Public Health Education Partnership
Director, Business Development and Community Relations
Delano Regional Medical Center
Sandra F. Celedon
President & CEO
Fresno Building Healthy Communities
Director of Health Outcomes and Value Strategy of Komoto Healthcare and President
Komoto Family Foundation
Dr. Barbara C. Wallace
Director of Health Equity
Center for Health Equity and Urban Science Education (CHEUSE)
In November 2018, Bakersfield College (BC) created a healthcare initiative for local community healthcare professionals and partners to collaborate, discuss, and strategize the future of healthcare within our community. Bruce Peters, President & CEO of Mercy Hospitals, Sharlet Briggs, President & CEO of Adventist Health, and Bakersfield cardiology specialist, Dr. Jeet Singh, were just a few of the power houses in attendance. Attendees discussed how our region can provide educational and workforce development programs that the healthcare industry needs. Attendees also discussed how to help prevent shortfalls in the Kern County healthcare workforce.
Track Record of Convening Health-focused Engagement
- Student Health & Wellness Center - Serves as the point of contact for students in need to address physical and mental health needs
- Free Mental Health Screening
- BC's vast history of health-related education programs includes:
- Emergency Medical Technician training
- Health Information Technology Program - Provides an AS degree and is available online to provide access to rural communities
- Health & Physical Education Program
- Public Health Sciences Program—solid health education and a network of connections to hospitals, clinics and other health care organizations
- Registered Nursing
- Radiologic Technology
- Health Inequity Resources - A collection of web-based resources to support research related to health inequity
- Health & Social Justice Hackathon - Teams of students design and build tech tools that respond to specific community health needs
- Renegade Pantry - Associated partnerships with businesses like Panera that supply food to students on campus
- Annual Bakersfield College Health Fair
- BC is a tobacco-free campus
- CPR Training
- DSPS Department - Ensures disabled students have equitable access to instruction on a daily basis
- College Safety Campus Escorts - Escorts to your vehicle any day, any time
- College Safety workshops on Sexual Violence Prevention and Active Shooter Response
- Free medical and mental health services from Clinica Sierra Vista at the BC Delano Campus
- Campus Blood Drives
- Campus Counseling, Psychological and Health Services for Veterans
- Student Services
- STEM & Pre-Med Guided Pathways Conference
- Movies for Mental Health
- BC Partners with Emergency Agencies - Offers FREE flu shots & practice point-of-dispensing as an emergency response exercise
Bakersfield College Convening Examples
- Distinguished Speaker: Dr. Tony Iton
- Equity in Action Conference
- Leadership Matters Summit
- Redesigning Community Colleges Guided Pathways Summit
- Business Pathway Industry Summit
- Women's Empowerment Summit
- Foster Youth Empowering Success Conference
- Kern Ag Summit
- Sustainability: Building an Institution for the Future Generation Symposium