The new partnership expands student, research, training and workforce development opportunities for public health and human services in San Diego County.
San Diego State University and the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) announced the creation of a new academic health and human services department, The Live Well Center for Innovation and Leadership.
After years of working together on clinical research, internships and successful pandemic response projects, the university and agency became official partners after signing a five-year agreement Thursday.
“I am very proud that the already strong partnership between SDSU and the County Health and Human Services Agency will continue to grow and expand beyond today,” said SDSU President Adele of the Tower.
“Through the Live Well Center for Innovation and Leadership, we are creating something new,” de la Torre said. “There will be a focus on workforce development and county internships for SDSU students in public health and social work, creating a highly educated and better trained workforce to address many of the health disparities prevalent in our community today .”
HHSA in San Diego does more than many traditional public health services and addresses complex community health issues, including housing, homelessness, hunger, and the well-being of children, families, and adults.
Concurrently, students and faculty in SDSU’s College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) conduct extensive research projects and explore innovative methods to address health disparities and emerging public health issues in the region’s urban and rural communities.
Described as a holistic and unique approach to integrating resources with SDSU’s programs for schools of social work, public health, nursing and mental health, the collaboration will addressing health issues across the country, including child well-being, aging, behavioral health and housing insecurity.
“This type of partnership is the first in the state of California,” he said Nathan Fletcher, chairman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “We will be streamlining workforce development through new internships and training, and this will be a great connection as we continue to grow our behavioral health workforce.” Together, we can retain local talent and prepare them to meet the public health needs of our region.”
The joint venture also creates a formal pipeline connecting HHSA and SDSU researchers. And it will streamline workforce development through new internship opportunities, with hands-on cross-training opportunities for CHHS students.
“The new partnership will provide significant experiential learning and more internships to better prepare our students for jobs that will improve and sustain the health of diverse communities,” they said Stephen Hooker, dean of SDSU’s College of Health and Human Services.
Faculty and the public will also benefit from a closer relationship with the county’s numerous health initiatives to further expand research collaborations. Hooker said, “Practices based on solid research will lead to better health outcomes among county residents of all ages, backgrounds and locations.”
The diversity of HHSA’s many departments ranges from aging and independence services to housing and community development to self-sufficiency services, offering a wide range of services and opportunities for students, researchers and healthcare professionals.
“The launch of the Live Well Center for Innovation and Leadership will accelerate our already productive partnership with the university,” said Nick Machione, director of the County Health and Human Services Agency. “We are excited about how faculty and the addition of more graduates with lived experience and fresh thinking in areas of great societal importance will contribute to a healthy, safe and thriving community.”
SDSU’s School of Public Health is consistently ranked among the best in the nation. And with the recent signing of California Senate Bill 684, SDSU can now offer independent doctoral degrees in public health.
“The Live Well Center for Innovation and Leadership sets the stage for this PhD program, creating a unique new experiential learning opportunity where our students can apply what they learn in a real community setting, helping HHSA and helping our neighbors.” said President de la Torre. “As the first academic health department in California, this is a model for other municipalities in the state to follow.”
Launching the Center, she added, “will make San Diego County a healthier and safer place for its citizens.”