Rena Salamacha, CEO, Mee Memorial Healthcare System

Throughout the pandemic, collaboration became a key element in the daily fight against the virus. It allowed Monterey County health care organizations, government agencies and nonprofits to work together to better administer not only care, but the dissemination of vital information to help educate distressed community members.

What’s more it provided coordinated education, combined resources, and helped streamline the vaccination and testing protocols.

Given that, it was a natural next step to continue these alliances to better coordinate resources and efforts moving forward for the greater good of the community.

The newly formed Monterey County Health Needs Collaborative is a partnership between Mee Memorial Healthcare System, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, Natividad, the Monterey County Health Department, and United Way Monterey County.

Nonprofit hospitals, such as Mee Memorial, must complete a community health needs assessment every three years, and health departments are required to do a health assessment every five years. Typically, most other community organizations do the assessment and address issues independently.

This new coalition has begun an unprecedented assessment of the health care needs of our diverse region. It is now conducting crucial public surveys to yield anonymous and confidential health, social and economic data. The results will provide a blueprint for the next three years to determine health programs, strategies and allocation of resources.

I cannot understate the importance of the community’s role in this endeavor. To more effectively identify, address and improve our collective health and well-being, people from all backgrounds and corners of our county need to participate. This will provide us with a clearer, more equitable, path forward.

I urge all community members to participate in the confidential 10-minute online survey here. It’s quick, painless and vitally important for the future of health care.

Hospitals must reach beyond traditional care to better identify preventive and clinical services to those who need it the most. That extends to providing better access to care in places where it can make a real impact. Our rural residents in South County often find barriers to proper health care. Now is the time for anyone who faces barriers to inform decision-makers how to best strategize future healthcare initiatives.

Professional Research Consultants, a public opinion research consultant, will also conduct bilingual phone and online surveys for our residents, so everyone will have a voice.

This is an opportunity to show how the public can play a critical role in helping shape the future, and begin to remove those obstacles to quality care.

Once the publicly reported assessment is complete, community organizations may use it for everything from planning to grant reporting for health outcomes. The Community Health Needs Collaborative partners will be able to work from the same data set and with the same assessment tools to identify trends and major health issues. Other county organizations and partners can then also work individually and collectively to create or enhance programs to respond to community health needs.

“The more we know about the unmet healthcare needs of our communities, the more hospitals, public health officials, and local organizations can do to make the Monterey region a better place to live for everyone,” said Jo Coffaro, Regional Vice President of the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California. “The community health needs assessment is a vital tool for identifying Monterey County’s top health concerns, and our collaborative partnership will result in a comprehensive and coordinated effort to improve the health and well-being of our region.”

Past efforts from community health needs assessments have steered funding, resources, and programs to improve access to healthcare and provide more programs to address treatable health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

“Monterey County Health Department is excited about how this collaborative assessment process has provided another way for all of us to work together to address identified health needs in our communities,” said Elsa Jimenez, Director of Health Services for Monterey County. “By working together we will make Monterey County an even healthier place to live, work and play.”

I can’t think of anything more important than that. To access the survey or to get more information about this unique collaboration, visit

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CEO, Mee Memorial Healthcare System


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