Ensuring Public Health is a core mission of the County of Santa Clara. The County directs over $5 billion of its $8 billion annual budget toward improving community health, disease control and prevention, and hospital and clinic operations.
We must ensure access to public hospitals. The County purchased O’Connor Hospital, Saint Louise Regional Hospital, and DePaul Health Center out of bankruptcy in early 2019. Closing these facilities would have resulted in countless deaths from increased travel time to distant emergency rooms. Additionally, a large reduction in available hospital beds across the County would hamper patient care. Our challenge moving forward is to ensure these hospitals run efficiently and serve everyone who uses these facilities.
We must improve care for the mentally ill. Mental illness is brain illness that affects the whole body. Mental illness drives many other problems that tax our county resources: homelessness, foster care, substance abuse, domestic violence, and criminal activity.
Previous approaches have been insufficient. We need to put more options on the table, like activating Laura’s Law in Santa Clara County: Our courts need the option to evaluate and compel dangerous individuals to mental health treatment when they pose a threat to themselves or others. We need to move young adults beyond their crisis with early intervention, before their lives spiral downward. Our neighbor’s mental illness is our community’s problem, because the results of inaction become bigger and more expensive problems that directly affect us all. We need to put mentally ill community members on a journey to health and recovery.