SAN MATEO COUNTY: Wins Federal Grant to Serve Uninsured
The federal government has awarded San Mateo County a $950,000 annual grant to provide health care for the poor and uninsured in East Palo Alto in conjunction with Stanford University Hospital and Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. Mayor R.B. Jones said the grant "provides a level of health care never before provided to folks who ordinarily receive services from a local health center." Until 1997, the Drew Health Foundation received the grant, but a federal audit revealed wide-scale financial mismanagement. To get the grant, the county competed with two other local health care providers. Gardner Family Health Network of San Jose dropped out of the running last month, partly because officials worried "that the group would not be able to combat an image as an outsider." A federal official called the county's application "head and shoulders above the rest." To utilize the two-year grant, the two hospitals must operate as a not-for-profit organization and develop an independent board of directors. Myrtle Walker, a city council member and chair of Drew's board of directors, welcomed the change. She said, "Our community has a large population of underserved and underprivileged that need health care. There's more than enough people to go around" (Zinko, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/19).
County Tells Residents to "Wake Up"
In other county news, East Palo Alto outreach workers have posted signs, in English, Spanish and Tongan, along University Avenue that urge residents to "Wake up, EPA! Use a condom. Take the HIV test." The three-year, county-wide campaign officially kicks off December 3 and was funded by a $480,000 state grant. The state money will be used to target drug users and East Palo Alto's large African American population. The city has one of the highest rates of AIDS cases in the county, making the disease the number one killer of African Americans between the ages of 25 and 44. The state employed local groups to help steer the campaign and develop activities, which include an anti-AIDS rap song competition, brochures and radio spots. Local hair salons will also distribute condoms and AIDS prevention literature to customers. Outreach Manager Luther Brock favors local participation in campaign organizing saying, "Too often government [attempts] to tell the community what it wants to do. The happiness ... is that they came to the community to ask what it wants, and that's why its going to work." John Conley director of the County AIDS program concurs: "When (residents) see someone they know, the message has a stronger impact. We don't want this to be a message that the Health Department comes in and drops on people" (Wallace, San Mateo County Times, 11/17).