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Santa Cruz County Public Health Division

The Santa Cruz County Public Health Division focuses on protecting and improving the health of communities through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, disease and injury prevention, and the promotion of sound health policy. The division is comprised of a highly diverse work force that encompasses many professional disciplines and several main areas of focus.

Our Vision

Better Health Every Day for Everyone

Our Mission

To collaborate with the community to protect, promote, and improve the health and well-being of all

Our Values

  • Collaboration
    Working in teams and partnering with others to achieve our goals and visions
  • Community-Focus
    Ensuring that community members are able to participate and have a voice in our work
  • Compassion
    Demonstrating understanding, empathy, and kindness with patients, clients, colleagues, and the whole community
  • Equity
    Ensuring full and equal access to programs and services that enable people to lead healthy lives
  • Quality
    Striving toward excellence through the use of evidence-based practices and process improvement in all services and program areas
  • Respect
    Addressing everyone with politeness and dignity while demonstrating value of individual needs and cultural diversity

5-Year Strategic Direction

Our Core Functions

The Communicable Disease Unit is composed of a highly skilled professional staff who perform epidemiological surveillance, investigation, and follow-up of contagious diseases. Field Public Health Nurses go into the Santa Cruz County community to provide direct disease control in the home and other settings.

To Protect the Environment, Workplaces, Housing, Food and Water

The Environmental Health Division is staffed by licensed and trained personnel comprised of work units devoted to consumer protection, hazardous materials and solid waste management, land-use environmental protection and waste-water management.

To Promote Healthy Behaviors

We provide programs promoting HIV Education and Prevention, Dental Disease Prevention, Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety, Child Passenger Restraint Promotion, Comprehensive Perinatal Care, Well-Child Care, Breast Cancer Screening.

To Monitor the Health Status of the Population

We maintain Vital Statistics for County with monitoring of birth and death statistics, and issuance of burial permits. Special surveillance of TB and HIV incidence and outcomes. Reports to State on incidence of reportable diseases.

To Mobilize Community Action for Health

We help create and participate in community partnerships including:
  • Prenatal Care Access Task Force
  • Ryan White HIV Care Consortium
  • HIV Community Response Planning
  • Tobacco Education Coalition
  • Reproductive Rights Network
  • Pediatric Death Review Committee
  • Public Health Commission
  • County Domestic Violence Prevention Commission
  • County Breast Care Consortium
  • Hazardous Materials Advisory Board

To Respond to Disasters

We maintain an active Emergency Medical Services Unit whose staff works closely with emergency medical care providers in the County. They plan and coordinate emergency medical response to individual emergencies as well as to external and environmental disasters.

To Assure the Quality, Accessibility, and Accountability of
Medical Care

We provide a long standing medical care system that has been in place for County indigent patients (Medi-Cruz) and provide referral resources to other State and Federal health benefit resources including a leading role in preparation for local Medi-Cal Managed Care.

To Reach Out to Link High-risk Disadvantaged People to Needed Services

Special Programs in place to provide:

  • Homeless people
  • Case Management and treatment
  • High-risk infants home follow-up
  • Pregnant and parenting teens case management
  • Teens at risk for pregnancy, outreach, counseling, birth control
  • Comprehensive Case Management for persons with HIV and AIDS
  • Special outreach for persons at high-risk for HIV, (testing and counseling)
  • Directly observed therapy for TB patients with poor compliance
  • CHDP promotes periodic health exams and follow-up for MediCal and low income children

To Provide Medical Care When Needed

Our two clinics are located in Santa Cruz and Watsonville, open over 40 hours a week, with on-site pharmacy, lab, and x-ray. In addition to family practice, services are for low income persons with wide array of conditions including TB, HIV, high-risk pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases. Medical services are provided to jail inmates in three facilities and to juvenile hall. Medi-Cruz finances care for county responsible (indigent) patients in the clinics and in the private sector. Immunization clinics provide free childhood vaccinations. CCS provides physical therapy to children with an eligible diagnosis. Pays for diagnosis and treatment of low-income children.

To Secure a Skilled Public Health Work Force

Provide clinical and educational placement opportunities for students in preventive medicine residencies, nursing school programs and graduate students in various community health study program.

To Research for New Insights and Innovative Solutions

Occasionally participate in clinical research projects such as current Clinical Trials for AIDS; innovative program such as Family Planning teen Demonstration Project and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Service have won national awards and acclaim, HIV Case Management Program (CARe Team) has lowest in-patient utilization rate in State.

To Lead the Development of Sound Health Policy and Planning

Lead role in:
  • Planning for local MediCal Managed Care (Central Coast Alliance for Health)
  • Establishment of State’s toughest tobacco control ordinances for all local jurisdictions (cities and County).
  • Planning community HIV response and promotion of local AIDS anti-discrimination ordinances.
  • Study of the impact of new small hospitals in Santa Cruz
  • United Way Needs Assessment, Health Component
  • Recommend positions on State Legislation concerning health to the Board of Supervisors

Work with Statewide health organizations on legislation and regulations concerning health policy.


"Healthiest Nation in One Generation" Video: This video by the American Public Health Association explains why public health is so important. (Click image to play.)

"Together We Can Do Better" Video: The American Public Health Association worldwide message. (Click image to play.)


image linked to YouTube video called "Together, We Can Do Better"