Social Determinants of Health

“My family has really enjoyed the experience of learning to grow our own veggies! My main reason for joining the program was to be able to give my family a chance at more healthy choices, eating more veggies...”

Participant of Valley Verde’s San Jose Gardens for Health program

Our health is influenced by a complex set of conditions based on where we live, work, and age, as well as our race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. These are called social determinants of health. Factors that impact health such as diet, exercise, stress, and access to healthcare are affected by these conditions. If we are born into a family with enough resources to buy nutritious food, live in a safe neighborhood, afford healthcare, and pay for education, our chances of living a healthy life are much greater. On the other hand, if we are born into a family struggling just to make ends meet and healthy food is scarce, doctor visits are few and far between, and there is little chance of a solid education or job training, our health prospects are much worse.

El Camino Healthcare District and El Camino Hospital support local efforts to address these social determinants of health through our Community Benefit grant programs. We conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment with other healthcare leaders to determine the most pressing health issues in our region.

doctore and patient

Garden Program at Affordable Housing Communities

Grant Cycle and Timeline

El Camino Healthcare District and El Camino Hospital provide annual grants to community-based organizations, clinics, and schools to address local unmet health needs. This annual Community Benefit Report provides an overview of these funded programs and the critical services they deliver.

The Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) is conducted every three years to identify the top unmet health needs in partnership with six other local hospitals, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. This process includes collecting data on key health conditions, capturing input from a wide spectrum of community members through surveys and focus groups, and prioritizing the unmet needs to be addressed.

El Camino Healthcare District and El Camino Hospital use the most recent 2016 CHNA to guide the Community Benefit grant program with the following priority area framework: Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, and Healthy Community. These include programs that serve the health needs of our most vulnerable community members, give kids and teens a healthier start in life, and improve mental health.

Lifecycle Calendar

Caring for Vulnerable Neighbors

When people struggle just to make ends meet, their health can suffer. Low-income communities face higher rates of diseases like diabetes and hypertension. Many don’t have access to regular healthcare, making it difficult to get preventive health screenings and other medical services. Healthy food is often too expensive to buy on a regular basis, if at all. Cultural and language barriers can make it even harder to get care. Through Community Benefit grants, many of our partners provided free culturally appropriate health and wellness services in multiple languages.

Lady Holding SignInfographic Primary Care

Vital health services provided to vulnerable community members include:

  • Primary care access
  • Dental services
  • Health screenings
  • Social work case management
  • Psychiatric and counseling services
  • Falls prevention for older adults
  • Food pantries and healthy food access programs
Elderly Woman ComputerInfographic Older Adults care

Community Benefit grants helped our partners provide free health and wellness services, including medical and dental care, to those who need it most. Homeless individuals were able to get respite care so they could heal after being released from the hospital. Intensive case management was provided to help community members, especially older adults, navigate the healthcare system and access services. Older adults received educational services to help them prevent complications from diabetes, heart disease, and serious falls that could lead to hospitalization. Free groceries and fresh produce were provided to low-income community members, and nutritious meals were delivered to older adults.

doctore and patient

Free Health Screenings and Education

Cultivating Health in Schools

Schools offer key opportunities for instilling healthy choices and providing services where they are lacking. Many families in our community don’t have enough resources to ensure their children eat a healthy diet and get the care they need to stay healthy. Poor health can lead to school absences and other issues that keep children and teens from succeeding at school. Without treatment, physical and mental health conditions can spiral out of control.

School is a great place to reach children and teens, and their families, with programs that can improve physical, emotional, and mental health. Community Benefit grants helped our partners give those in preschool through high school a healthier start in life. These grants funded school nurses, who often fill the gap in care for underserved students.

Library BooksHealth Programs in Schools

Our Community Benefit grants made possible free services in schools such as:

  • Dental, hearing, and vision screenings
  • Mental health counseling
  • Nursing care
  • Care for medically fragile children
  • Physical activity programs
  • Anti-bullying and school climate programs
  • Nutrition education and school garden
Physical activity programs were offered, including those that focus on conflict resolution and help girls in elementary school build self-esteem. Students learned about healthy eating. Lessons included food-tastings and harvesting their own fresh produce. Parents received tips and tools for fostering a healthy lifestyle at home.
Children Running

Promoting Physical Activity at School

"The provision of two school nurses to support our families in ensuring access to healthcare is a tremendous benefit. Other benefits are getting much needed glasses to our students through our Vision To Learn partnership, increasing students’ health with 5-2-1-0, and enhancing their physical fitness awareness through PlayWorks. None of this would have been possible without El Camino Hospital."

Dr. Shelly Viramontez, Superintendent, Campbell Union School District

Improving Mental Health

Good mental health is critical for a full and satisfying life. Mental health conditions can take a toll on relationships, get in the way of job and school success, and impact other health issues. Getting help can be difficult, especially for people with limited resources. Those who go untreated are at higher risk for addiction, self-destructive behavior, and suicide. With our funding, Community Benefit partners were able to address issues such as anxiety, depression, dementia, domestic violence, substance abuse, and bullying.

African American Woman Consulting ChildInfographic Mental Health Care

Services provided to people of all ages include:

  • Counseling and psychiatric care
  • Crisis intervention
  • Case management
  • Group support
  • Peer counseling
  • Addiction services
  • Substance abuse

With the help of these grants, our partners were able to provide counseling, psychiatric care, and case management for people of all ages who can’t afford to pay for mental health services. Kids and teens received support and services to help them become more resilient, avoid pressures to join a gang or use addictive substances, deal with trauma related to domestic violence, and prevent self-harm and suicide. Culturally appropriate services were provided to South Asian victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. Older adults with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease were able to get the care they need, and legal services were provided to advocate for people with mental health conditions.

"We’re so grateful for having the clinic around. It really is the only spot here. The psychiatrist here, he’s the only hookup we’ve got to mental health services. He’s helped to get a lot of us leveled out."

Peninsula Healthcare Connection patient and formerly homeless community member

"My healing began when I started coming to support groups at Next Door Solutions. I remember crying the whole time, listening to women telling their stories. At that moment, I realized I’m not alone."

Participant, Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence