Tuesday, April 18, 2017

CD 10 John Alvarez

Candidates for elected city offices were all asked the same questions by the Bexar County Medical Society and have submitted answers to those questions as shown below. 
This information is provided as a service from the Bexar County Medical Society, but is not an endorsement.
BCMS does not make endorsements of any candidates for office nor of elected officials. 

John Alvarez
City Council District 10
2017 Mayoral/City Council Candidates
Health Care Questions

1.   Despite affecting everyone in this community, "community health and wellness" has not been a big priority at City Hall. "Community health and wellness" had one third of the ranking that "streets" received in community input via SpeakUPSanAntonio. Yet it impacts our well being, workforce, economic development and the prosperity of San Antonio.
What health-related areas do you think deserve increased attention, priority, and local resources, and, if elected, how would you elevate the discussion of these health issues at City Hall and lead effective action to improve health and healthcare in our community?

 As a Licensed Professional Counselor working with at-risk populations, community health and wellness is among my top priorities and a public servant. The city of San Antonio has several opportunities for improving the health and well being of its citizens. We must take ethical and stringent environmental protection measures so that our citizens are able to breath clean air and drink clean water. We can take measures as a city to improve access to outdoor activities and increased exercise. We should make sure that all citizens have access to, and are made aware of, mental and physical healthcare options. We can increase education and outreach for parents as to proper child health, nutrition, and immunization practices. 

2.  Bexar County is the primary source of funding for indigent health care in our area through the Bexar County Hospital District and University Health System. How would you, if elected, promote cooperative efforts to increase services and access to care for the citizens of San Antonio?

 As the former Chairman of the SA2020 Commission on Strengthening Family Well Being and an elected representative to the Community Action Advisory Board, care for the indigent population of San Antonio was one our main focuses. San Antonio is a model of providing care to its indigent population for the entire nation but we can do more. With a change in strategy and a focus on "Housing First" models, we can help to stabilize indigent citizens and end homelessness. This model will help to provide regular mental and physical health care which will prevent emergency room visits, which helps indigent people and reduce costs for hospitals and the city. 

3.  The disparity of health care between our poorest and wealthiest zip codes/districts is quite striking (Bexar County Health Collaborative 2016 report). How would you, if elected, reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes for our lower income communities/citizens?

 First is education. With increased outreach and education, we can help families in poor zip codes to find new information and avenues to care for themselves and their families. But the harsh reality is that health disparity is based on income disparity. San Antonio is one of the most financially disparate cities in America. In order to fix this root issue, we must address disparities in public education, minimum wage, and access to healthcare for all people. 

4.  San Antonio has a high incidence of obesity and diabetes mellitus and has been ranked as high as second in the nation for obesity in recent years. Past city efforts attempting to improve these rates, such as trying to reduce the prevalence of sugary drinks in our community, have been met with controversy. What ideas do you have to reduce the incidence of these chronic health issues?

 I support initiatives that encourage better nutrition but I also think that we can do more to increase physical exercise and education. Many other Texas cities have more public outdoor options that are suitable to hot weather activity (i.e. pools, splash pads, etc.) San Antonio has not focused on improving nutrition or increasing activity options in their attempts to combat obesity and diabetes. I also believe that the City of San Antonio could create a stronger partnership with its public schools to improve habit forming activities for our children.

5.  According to the CDC, child abuse and neglect are serious problems that can have lasting harmful effects on its victims. The goal in preventing child abuse and neglect is clear — to stop this violence from happening in the first place. What local policies, resources and efforts will you support to promote safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children and families?

In my previously mentioned public service positions and as a psychotherapist working with children, this is an issue that has remained a difficult problem to solve. Despite focus and resources being provided to this ongoing tragedy, there are underlying systemic factors that are causing improvement to be almost non-existent. As a city, we can strengthen our partnership with public schools, the Children's Shelter, and the multiple foster care and child abuse prevention agencies in our community. We also must lobby to the Texas Legislature for reform and improvement of CPS and other child and family services state wide. Child abuse will remain an issue that I will continue to focus on throughout my career and public service but it has thus far been the largest problem with the greatest lack of actionable solutions.