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Innovative California Public Health Departments Honored at Gala in Sacramento for Their Work Toward Achieving Health Equity

SACRAMENTO – On the evening of December 4, The California Endowment hosted public health department leadership from across the state to honor unique efforts and innovations initiated by departments to combat health inequities. The Advancing Health Equity Awards: Highlighting Health Equity Practice in California Public Health Departments showcased the work of 13 health departments across the state that goes beyond the traditional scope of public health.

The California Endowment created this event to feature and reward public health department practices that can inform and inspire the future work of others committed to improving health equity.

Anthony Iton, M.D., J.D., MPH , senior vice president for Healthy Communities at The California Endowment notes that “California has always been a leader in innovation, and the same holds true for our local public health departments working to achieve health equity. By facing some of California’s most difficult challenges head on, they are working to make communities around the state safer, healthier, and stronger for everyone.”

Four public health departments stood out in particular, due to their exceptional work reducing health inequities in 2014.  These departments include Alameda County Public Health Department, Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency - Public Health Branch, Sonoma County Department of Health Services and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Alameda County Public Health Department’s award came with a grant of $100,000, while the latter three counties’ grants were awarded $25,000 each, all for efforts to further progress toward health equity.

Each of these departments are initiating unique and innovative programs within their communities to improve the health and well-being of all their neighborhoods.  
 

  • Arnold X. Perkins Award for Outstanding Health Equity Practice was awarded to Alameda County Public Health Department for their work on housing inequities, focusing particularly on low-income communities in Oakland. These efforts reflect a long-term commitment to building an organizational culture focused on health inequities, developing strong relationships with community organizing groups, multi-sector collaborations with advocacy groups and governmental partners and communicating directly with decision makers to address the root causes of health inequities.
     
  • The Health Equity Award for Exemplary Small County Practice was awarded to the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency, Public Health Branch for its work with Reach Higher Shasta, a community collaborative focused on addressing the root causes of poverty by increasing educational attainment and career development among Shasta County youth. A primary goal of their partnership was to improve community health by increasing career opportunities for local youth that will result in higher incomes.
     
  • Health Equity Award for Exemplary Medium County Practice was awarded to the Sonoma County Department of Health Services for its work with Health Action, which placed a strategic focus on economic security, educational attainment and health system improvement through dedicated subcommittees that work throughout the county.
     
  • Health Equity Award for Exemplary Large County Practice was awarded to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health for its program, Parks After Dark. Parks After Dark is a partnership among the parks department, law enforcement, public health, social services, community-based organizations and community residents to aim to reduce and prevent community violence. The program has decreased serious and violent crime in three neighborhoods, while other neighborhoods without the program show a contrast with crime continuing to rise.
     

A final award was distributed as a one-time honor this evening, The Health Equity Founders Award was given to Arnold X. Perkins for a lifetime of inspired vision, passion and commitment to social justice and health equity in California.

Senior Vice President for Healthy Communities Anthony Iton, M.D., J.D., MPH, states “With the commitment of leaders in these public health departments throughout the state, as well as the vision of passionate leaders like Arnold X. Perkins, California has experienced many successes toward achieving greater health equity across its communities. There is much work still to be done, but the achievements serve to inspire future work on improving health equity.”
 

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About The California Endowment
The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people's health. The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention and is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to radically improve the health in 14 California communities – through its Building Healthy Communities (BHC) initiative. BHC focuses on building a stronger and healthier community where children and youth are healthy, safe, and ready to learn.  For more information, visit The California Endowment’s homepage at www.calendow.org.