One of the less-obvious parts of our work at the VMC Foundation is our collaboration with Santa Clara County’s elected officials. It’s work that I very much enjoy, and I think it makes us a more successful non-profit; when we’re best supporting our public medical center, it’s as we support the leadership of the County at its highest level.
This is why I was excited to hear the priorities of our County’s new President, Mike Wasserman. He’s served on the Board of Supervisors since 2010 and as the incoming President, gave his “State of the County Address” on January 28. On a personal note, he’s a fellow Los Gatoan and a great guy.
Here are a couple of highlights from his speech, and how they relate to the work of the VMC Foundation:
- Combating homelessness. “Wealthy” Silicon Valley, sadly, continues to face this complex problem. President Wasserman has been an advocate for years of finding solutions, and made mention of the fact that it’s not just a matter of compassion; it’s also a taxpayer issue. “A chronically homeless person costs society $60,000 a year [in medical, law enforcement and related costs] while the solution [providing them a place to live] costs half that.” This is a bold political statement, yet we know it’s true. The VMC Foundation is helping by funding programs that reduce re-admission rates to VMC’s busy Emergency Department through social service and referrals. Hand in hand, homeless advocates like HomeFirst and Destination Home and Valley Medical Center are making it more possible to house the homeless and build lives.
- Traffic Safe Communities. President Wasserman chairs the newly-formed Traffic Safe Communities Network in Santa Clara County, and I’m proud to be a new member. Working with valley leaders from many sectors—and led by our Public Health Department—we are working to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities while providing safer pedestrian/bike access to schools and work.
- The Center for Leadership and Transformation. This is an initiative across county departments to examine ways the county provides services and improve upon them. Yes, all of them! Employee-led and executive-sponsored, the VMC Foundation is involved in Valley Medical Center’s efforts as we promote the CLT and collect/share best practices.
President Wasserman in known for having a “head for numbers and a heart for people”, and I feel strongly that his State of the County Address reflected that. I’m also confident that 2014 will be a year of moving forward for our county, the 16,000 people employed by it, and the two million people living in it.
Here’s the full text of President Wasserman’s address.