Bakersfield College

Health, Equity, and Learning Center

Introducing the Rural Health Equity and Learning (HEAL) Collaborative

Our Mission

Our community-engaged research & policy center advances rural health equity and well-being by improving social and economic mobility of families in rural America.

Our Vision

To activate significant network of partners supporting rural health equity, higher education, and economic growth through collaboration and innovation.

What is Health Equity?

Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences.

About the Rural HEAL Collaborative

Rural HEAL Collaborative partners are passionate about improving health, education and economic outcomes in rural communities throughout America. 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.

Located in an ethnically and economically diverse geographic region, the rural HEAL partnership offers the relevant research capacity and the ability to link to rural areas across the nation. Within our region, we understand how 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 collaborations, we have experienced how collaboration begets innovation to tackle the challenges of building and sustaining healthy rural communities.

The 26,000-square miles from Merced to Kern counties constitute 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, they experience few opportunities to carry out research and evaluate failing systems or leverage social and political power to eliminate health inequities. Like rural communities across America, ensuring that California’s Central Valley meets the workforce demands of industry is essential to the economic stability of our rural communities. 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 Rural HEAL collaborative, ongoing dialogue and strategic convenings among partners and interested others will remain the key to creating value and systemic change that improves the health and socioeconomic stability of people across the nation.

Creating the HEAL Culture - A Call to Action

Our short- and long-term strategic goals encompass an overarching commitment to serve as a catalyst for local, state and national collaboration and a progressive, creative force on behalf of all rural health constituencies/communities.

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.

HEAL Collaborative

HEAL collaborative proposes various pilot projects and initiatives to catalyze efforts to address regional inequities in educational attainment, meet regional workforce demands, and improve community wellness using a three-pronged approach:

  1. Develop and scale regionally high demand high wage pathways in education and health sciences
  2. Establish programs that meet rural workforce development needs
  3. Focus on advancing rural health equity and well-being to improve social and economic mobility of families in rural America through the lens of research projects and community outreach in California's Central Valley

Join the HEAL Collaborative

Consider becoming a HEAL partner and fill out the HEAL Collaborative form. For more information, please contact Norma Rojas-Mora.


About Our Partners

Dr. Brijesh Bhambi headshot

Dr. Brijesh Bhambi

Title:
Cardiologist and Chairman
Organization:
Centric Health

Jon Van Boening headshot

Jon Van Boening

Title:
President and Senior VP of Operations
Organization:
Dignity Health Central California

Sharlet Briggs headshot

Sharlet Briggs

Title:
President
Organization:
Adventist Health, Bakersfield

Matthew Cauthron headshot

Matthew Cauthron

Title:
Director, Business Development and Community Relations
Organization:
Delano Regional Medical Center

Sandra Celedon headshot

Sandra F. Celedon

Title:
President & CEO
Organization:
Fresno Building Healthy Communities

Danielle Colayco headshot

Danielle Colayco

Title:
Director of Health Outcomes and Value Strategy of Komoto Healthcare and President and CEO
Organization:
Komoto Family Foundation

Claudia Corchado headshot

Claudia G. Corchado

Title:
Program Manager
Organization:
United Way of Merced, CA - Cultiva La Salud

Tom Corson headshot

Tom Corson

Title:
Executive Director
Organization:
Kern County Network for Children

Dr. Jasleen Duggal headshot

Dr. Jasleen Duggal

Title:
Endocrinologist
Organization:
Centric Health

Shannon Grove headshot

Shannon Grove

Title:
Republican California State Senator
Organization:
Representing the 16th District
Support:
Shannon Grove's Letter of Support

Kevin Hamilton headshot

Kevin Hamilton

Title:
Chief Executive Officer
Organization:
Central California Asthma Collaborative

Melissa Hurtado headshot

Melissa Hurtado

Title:
Democratic California State Senator
Organization:
Representing Senate District 14

Magda Menendez headshot

Magda Menendez

Title:
Administrator
Organization:
Mexican American Opportunity Foundation

Lisa Mensah headshot

Lisa Mensah

Title:
President and CEO
Organization:
Opportunity Finance Network

Dena Murphy headshot

Dena Murphy

Title:
Director
Organization:
Kern County Department of Human Services

Bob Neath headshot

Bob Neath

Title:
Manager
Organization:
Kern Regional Transit

Bryan Osorio headshot

Bryan Osorio

Title:
Councilmember
Organization:
City of Delano

Stephen Pelz headshot

Stephen Pelz

Title:
Executive Director
Organization:
Housing Authority of the County of Kern

Marie Perez-Dowling headshot

Marie Perez-Dowling

Title:
CEO
Organization:
United Way of Kern County

Janet Rabanal headshot

Janet Rabanal

Title:
President and CEO
Organization:
Delano Chamber of Commerce

Rudy Salas headshot

Rudy Salas

Title:
Assemblymember
Organization:
California State Assembly

Cheryl Scott headshot

Cheryl Scott

Title:
Executive Director
Organization:
Kern Economic Development Foundation

Jeremy Tobias headshot

Jeremy Tobias

Title:
Chief Executive Officer
Organization:
Community Action Partnership of Kern

Bill Walker headshot

Bill Walker

Title:
Director
Organization:
Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services

Barbara Wallace headshot

Dr. Barbara C. Wallace

Title:
Director of Health Equity
Organization:
Center for Health Equity and Urban Science Education (CHEUSE)


Focusing on the Community Healthcare Needs

Bakersfield College has created a space for local community healthcare professionals and partners to collaborate, discuss, and strategize the future of healthcare within our community. In November 2018, Bruce Peters, President & CEO of Mercy Hospitals, Sharlet Briggs, President & CEO of Adventist Health, and cardiology specialist Dr. Jeet Singh were just a few of the power houses in attendance. Attendees chatted about how we can all work together to ensure that our region is being provided the programs that it and the industry needs, and to try to help prevent any shortfalls in occupation employment.

Community Healthcare Group Photo

BC's Health-Focused Initiatives and Resources

Track Record of Convening Health-focused Engagement

Bakersfield College Convening Examples