TVHC CEO Andrea Schwab-Galindo Speaks on Workforce Challenges
and Opportunities at the Board of Supervisors’ Health Committee Meeting
On Tuesday, June 28th, TVHC CEO Andrea Schwab-Galindo was a panelist for the “Future of the Health Care Safety Net in Alameda County” series, held by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors’ Health Committee, honoring the late Supervisor Wilma Chan and her dedicated to increasing access to health care for all community members.
With an emphasis on promoting equity and racial justice, the panel discussed workforce challenges, including recruitment from within the communities served by the Alameda County safety net, especially those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, which is becoming increasingly difficult.
“Without a strong and diverse workforce, who has lived our patients’ experiences, we can’t keep Alameda County healthy, particularly our most vulnerable populations,” said TVHC CEO Andrea Schwab-Galindo.
At TVHC, 82% of our staff live within the communities we serve, eight out of 10 employees speak more than one language, and seven out of 10 are immigrants or first generation.
TVHC and fellow Community Health Centers hire a diverse workforce within their communities to serve patients in culturally and linguistically competent ways.
However, with rising gas prices, high inflation, and a housing crisis, it is becoming more challenging for Community Health Centers in the region to fill open positions and retain talent.
“We need to discuss the rising cost of living and affordable pathways to careers in health care,” said Andrea. “Cost is a huge factor for many low-income community members who want to pursue a career in health care. However, most clinics and non-profits like ours cannot compensate relatively to the debt they incur from going to school.”
Panel moderator Alameda County Supervisor Dave Brown brought up how providing affordable housing at all levels, from extremely low to moderate-income, is a huge challenge the entire region is facing and working to remedy.
“The county is investing in housing through ballot measure A1, along with seeking other funding sources from the state,” said Supervisor Brown. “However, because building new affordable housing is expensive and takes time, and we need help now, we are looking into housing subsidies, which are another way to tackle the housing issue for our workforce.”
Also on the panel was the CEO of Roots Community Health Center, Dr. Noha Aboeleta, Executive Director of Health Path and Alameda Health System, Jessica Pitt, and Executive Director of Behavioral Health Collective, Matthew Madaus.
Each panelist spoke about their current school to career pipelines, utilizing their relationships with community colleges, trade schools, and local universities to aid in their recruitment efforts to hire more staff from within the communities they serve.
However, every panelist came to the same consensus that there was much more to be done, and it will take out-of-the-box thinking and collaboration to solve the workforce shortage of the Alameda County safety net.
“One of the things we learn as a community-based organization and Community Health Center is how much we need each other and the partnerships we have,” said Andrea in her closing remarks. “We all have different types of expertise, and it will take all of us looking at the data, planning for the short and long term, figuring out what we can do now, so we aren’t here 10 years from now having the same concerns.”
Stay tuned for more updates on how TVHC is working with community partners to increase equity and diversity in the health care workforce.