County moves to better connect Asian, Pacific Islander communities to health services

Santa Clara County’s sizeable Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities are historically underserved by local health organizations.

The Board of Supervisors is hoping to change that, approving staff to specifically connect API populations with unique programs.

Supervisor Joe Simitian noted how the county’s health programs could be more effective by serving more populations in need.

“It doesn’t do any good to offer services if they aren’t really accessible,” Simitian said.

He added, “Healthcare is more than just making sure people get better when they are sick. It’s also about making sure people don’t get sick in the first place.”

A yet-to-be-identified community organization will manage the program, through part-time staff with applicable cultural and language background. Care will include primary care, social services, and health education. The goal is to reduce incidences of emergency care through better prevention.

“It is more critical than ever that we streamline processes in which patients receive care,” said Michele Lew, CEO of The Health Trust, about the program.

Seven local API subgroups will be targeted for outreach and connections to care. They include Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Pacific Islander.

Local API community groups praised the effort.

“There has been a historical need to address the health disparities affecting Asian and Pacific Islander communities in a way that prioritizes their diverse health conditions, cultures, and socioeconomic experiences,” said Sarita Kohli, head of Asian Americans for Community Involvement.

“Building upon community partnerships and support from the County, we know that this program will move us closer to healthier outcomes for APIs,” Kohli added.