San Diego County Health Agencies ‘Fall Short’ of Meeting Goals, Surveys Find
San Diego County health agencies do not adequately ensure that health programs meet goals or that health care workers are "competent," according to statewide and federal surveys, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. At the request of Dr. George Flores, the county health department's chief physician, the CDC and the Health Officers Association of California conducted surveys to assess how San Diego County's health services compared to those in other counties across the nation. The surveys questioned more than 80 local health care officials from county government and community service organizations. Preliminary results from the CDC survey indicated that the county "falls short" in the following areas: educating people about health issues, creating community partnerships to solve health problems, ensuring a competent public health work force, linking patients to services, evaluating the quality of health programs, monitoring community health problems and investigating ways to solve health problems. However, the CDC study did find that the county "does a better job" than others at enforcing laws to protect health and safety, enacting policies to support health efforts, diagnosing health problems and creating regional approaches to addressing health issues.
The survey by the health officers association identified problems in other areas. For example, the survey found that 42% of the county's public health staff is "outsourced," which could potentially make the county "vulnerable" and impair a "health officer's ability to carry out duties." While the county contracts out work as a way to use some federal and state grants without having to hire additional workers, the survey found that the county may be short-handed in the event of a disaster. Flores said, "We're more outsourced than any other health department in the state and any other large health department in the nation." He added, "It makes it more difficult to deploy workers and cross-utilize them in a disaster." The Union-Tribune reports that specific examples of the county's strengths and weaknesses will be outlined when the full report is released at a later time (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.