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Summer 2019

CCHS Director Anna Roth
Message From The Director

Welcoming and Kindness: Our best defense against hate and violence

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am writing to you today on behalf of the leadership team here at Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS).  We are saddened and heartbroken about the ongoing violence in our country that is taking place in a culture that seems to be increasingly driven by public bullying, hate, fear, misinformation and racism. The polarization and targeting of individuals and entire communities has created a toxic environment. 

As the health department, we are especially concerned about this. We know that heightened levels of intolerance and negativity adversely impact the health of all of us. Many of you have conveyed that members of our community have reported increased levels of anxiety, fear, depression and isolation. We also recognize that ongoing racism and violence causes pain and suffering and undermines the resiliency of too many people in Contra Costa County.  Standing up against hate and violence requires action from each one of us, as well as an organizational commitment to welcoming and kindness. 

We at CCHS welcome, value and respect people regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, language or immigration status. Our mission statement, which is on the back of every CCHS employee's ID card, makes our values clear: "Our mission is to care for and improve the health of all people in Contra Costa County with special attention to those who are most vulnerable to health problems." We want to assure you that CCHS will continue to serve all people in Contra Costa County.

We have long seen the importance of investing in our values and the values that we know improve health. These investments include, but are not limited to, our Reducing Health Disparities unit, our Office of Consumer Empowerment staff, our Health Equity team, the Perinatal Equity Initiative, the Welcoming Policy at our hospital, and the PRIDE Initiative, to name only a few. We are also working with Employment and Human Services on a Blueprint to End Interpersonal Violence. Finally, we want to acknowledge all of our amazing, diverse staff here in Health Services that shows up every day to serve our community in Contra Costa – we have tremendous respect and gratitude for each of you and all that you do here in Health Services. 

We know there is more work to be done – together. As we look to the days ahead, we believe that welcoming and kindness will continue to move us forward. 

Anna Roth

On behalf of the Contra Costa Health Services Leadership Team

Find out how the CCHS employees named below went the extra mile.

Michael Nguyen, MD
Linae Young
Teresa White-Thornton
Jennifer Deberdt
Jesse Farrar
Lynnette Harmon
Personnel Transaction Team
Koy Phan
Bernard Payne
Maansi Shah
Kiani Johnson
Jessica Cunningham-Krahl
David Raphael, MD
Selina Thomas, MD
Ningyuan Ding, MD
Carla Dockham, RN
Susan Riley, RN
Kimberly Davey
Stacey Phillips, LVN
Ranjel Garcia
Nikolas Chaplin
Nayeli Galarza
Lorna Bitanga-Danila
German Huerta Castro, RN
Andre Doucette
Erick Manzanarez
Kevin Narducci
Nula Lakha-Jackson
Gregory Garcia
Nyasha Jones
Joanne Genet

Adrienne Sofranko
Rose Castro, RN
Christine Apostol, RN
Maria Luna, RN
Frances McCart, RN
Emily Kelly, RN
Beth Raisleger, RN
Melissa Cipres, CMA
Adrienne Sofranko
Erin Fabie-Jones
Kayleigh Calandri
Aneela Ahmed, MD
Candace Markley, MD
Larry Baldwin, RN
Jeff Hogan
John Gragnani
Claudia Hinojosa Torres
Eddie Mendoza Ong, RN
Veronica Sanchez
Kathi Caudel
Rodney Gottschall
Sead Alispahic
Sarah McNeil, MD
Brenda Brice
Brandon Rowley
Maria Fairbanks, RN
Geoff Martin
Marshall Bennett
Patricia Weisinger
Rachel Morris

Office of the Director

Erika Jenssen Named Deputy Health Director

Erika Jenssen, previously the assistant to Health Services Director Anna Roth, was promoted to Deputy Health Director in July.

Over the last three years, Erika has led improvement and collaborative efforts across the department, working with broad groups of stakeholders such as patients, community members, advocates, Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) front-line staff and managers.

Erika began her career with CCHS as a student worker and went on to lead communicable disease, immunization and emergency preparedness programs in the Public Health Division for more than 20 years. She was also a Change Agent Fellow in 2013 and completed the Kaiser Improvement Advisor Program in 2015.

The breadth of her experience working across the department and the county makes her uniquely qualified to serve as the deputy director as we look to better coordinate operations, break down silos and work toward health equity in partnership with our communities.

Erika grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from UC Berkeley with an MPH in Health Policy and Administration. When she's not at work, she enjoys rooting for the U.S. women's national soccer team, painting and hanging out with her wife and daughter.

Behavioral Health Services

BHS Welcomes New Director Suzanne Tavano

Dr. Suzanne Tavano formally joined CCHS as the new director of the Behavioral Health Services (BHS) division in June.

Dr. Tavano previously served 18 years with Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS), filling a variety of clinical and administrative positions, including acting mental health director, before leaving Contra Costa for other opportunities in 2012.

She rejoins CCHS after stints as behavioral health director in Marin and Santa Cruz counties, and as a past president of the California Behavioral Health Directors Association.

Throughout her career, Dr. Tavano has been active in supporting client and family member participation in the development and delivery of behavioral health services and promoting principles of wellness, recovery and resiliency. She also has deep technical expertise in both the funding and regulations around behavioral health services.

Dr. Matthew White, who served as acting BHS director over the past year, will remain Health Services' Behavioral Health Medical Director, continue to oversee psychiatric services across the department and partner with Dr. Tavano to co-lead the division.

Government Affairs

New Federal "Public Charge" Rules to Impact Safety-Net Services

Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security unveiled its proposed final changes to federal "public charge" rules so it is harder for immigrants to obtain permanent resident status (green cards) if they use certain government programs, including Medi-Cal, Cal-Fresh and some housing programs.

The proposed changes were recently published on the Federal Register and take effect October 15, barring legal challenges. Many are still studying the 800-page Final Rule to assess its full impact. We anticipate it will likely increase fear in our community and may cause some to reconsider accepting services or healthcare they need.

"Public charge" is an immigration term to describe an applicant that federal government officials believe will become dependent on public programs if granted permanent resident status. An applicant considered likely to become a public charge is likely to have their application denied.

The complicated new rules will impact some of those we serve, but not others. It is important to know:

  • Pregnant women up until 60 days after they give birth will NOT be affected under the new rules
  • Children under the age of 21 that use Medi-Cal will NOT be affected
  • WIC beneficiaries will NOT be affected

To learn more, fact sheets and FAQs can be found at Protecting Immigrant Families.

Contra Costa Health Services remains resolute in its mission to care for and improve the health of all Contra Costa residents, and CCHS will continue to deliver high quality services to all who need them, regardless of immigration status. It is our policy to not ask about the immigration status of patients or clients except when necessary (such as to determine eligibility for a program or service).

CCHS staff may hear questions and concerns about the new public charge rules from patients or clients. Please refer them to, which we will update with the details as we learn them, and where they can find information and community resources, including legal advice. Please remember not to offer legal advice – let's make sure our patients and clients get their advice from legal experts.

On a separate note, CCHS has a supply of so-called red cards with information that can help citizens and non-citizens exercise their constitutional rights regarding immigration law enforcement contact and searches. Contact 925-957-2663 or to get red cards to give to patients and clients.

Behavioral Health Services

BHS Prevents Closure of Former Anka Programs

The Behavioral Health Services (BHS) division and community partners have acted quickly to prevent the disruption of vital services at several contractor-operated residential and outpatient treatment programs.

Several facilities operated by Anka Behavioral Health in Contra Costa faced the threat of closure by June 1 because of the nonprofit's bankruptcy filing earlier this year, unrelated to its work with Health Services.

But BHS, working on a tight deadline, found other community providers to step up and assume the remainder of Anka's contracts. Each former Anka program is now operating under new management and in almost all cases employing the same site staff. Health Services continues to work on contractual and property details with County Counsel and the Board of Supervisors.

Anka ran several residential facilities, including Nevin House in Richmond, Nierika House in Concord and the Don Brown Shelter in Antioch, several outpatient clinics and programs for mental health and substance use disorder, and a few units of permanent supportive housing.

Oakland-based Bay Area Community Services (BACS) now runs the residential facilities – Nevin, Nierika and Don Brown – while several other partners including Hume, Mental Health Systems, CenterPoint and Contra Costa Interfaith Housing picked up the other programs.

Contact Dr. Suzanne Tavano at or Dr. Matthew White at for more information.

Public Health

Patients in Recovery Quilt their Experience

Patients in Public Health's Choosing Change clinic recently completed a quilt expressing their experiences in recovery from opioid use disorder, each contributing one square with their own words and drawings.

Choosing Change is a medication-assisted treatment program that combines group therapy and support from a diverse medical team with supervised use of buprenorphine (Suboxone) to reduce craving and withdrawal symptoms and help patients reclaim their lives.

Know a patient who could benefit? Staff can answer questions about treatment, eligibility, referrals and other aspects of the program – in-basket the Choosing Change Pool on ccLink. Visit for more information.

Health, Housing & Homeless Services

H3 Offers New Services for People Nearing Homelessness

People struggling with housing in Contra Costa may be able to avoid homelessness altogether thanks to Rapid Resolution, a new program from the Health, Housing and Homeless Services (H3) Division.

Rapid Resolution identifies people seeking homeless services in Contra Costa who could quickly regain or avoid losing their housing with help from a directed, well-timed intervention, such as a connection to a specific community resource or help finding an out-of-state relative.

The program, modeled after a similar Veterans Administration initiative, has helped divert 29 people in Contra Costa from homelessness since it debuted in late April.

Rapid Resolution is identified as a possible resource as people touch the homeless system of care through the three access points: calling 211, dropping into a CARE Center or connecting with CORE homeless outreach.

Entry points use a short screening tool to determine if people seeking homeless services could benefit from Rapid Resolution. People referred to the program can receive services including coaching, conflict resolution and mediation, housing search assistance, referrals and limited financial assistance.

Contact Jaime Jenett at for more information.

Health, Housing & Homeless Services

Preliminary 2019 Homeless Count Info Released

Results of Health Services' annual survey of Contra Costa residents in need of housing showed a 3% year-over-year increase in people living outside or in homeless shelters after a dramatic rise in 2018.

Data show that the 43% increase in Contra Costa's homeless population since 2017 is part of a larger, regional trend among Bay Area counties, most of which had similar increases fueled by growing economic inequity and a severe shortage of affordable housing.

Click here for H3's 2019 point-in-time count infographic. The full report, including city-level count totals, is expected later this summer.

Behavioral Health Services

First Hope Expands Services

On June 10th, the Behavioral Health Services (BHS) Division's First Hope program expanded to include young people who have recently experienced First Episode Psychosis (FEP).

Since 2013, the program has provided early intervention services for clients aged 12 to 25 who are referred to the program because they are at "clinical high risk" for developing a psychotic disorder. In October 2018, First Hope moved to new offices at 391 Taylor Boulevard, Pleasant Hill in preparation for hiring and training new staff and expanding services. The goal of FEP treatment is to prevent the disability often associated with delays in treatment and prolonged periods of untreated psychosis by offering high quality treatment as soon as psychosis is identified.

First Hope serves all areas of the county. The program offers comprehensive outpatient services to clients and their families using a multidisciplinary team-based model. Services include individual, family and group therapy, case management, multifamily groups, employment and education support, occupational therapy, peer support, substance counseling and psychiatric management.

Visit our new website at! Providers, parents or clients can call 925-608-6550 for information and referral.


Thanks to these employees for their long years of service:

40 Years

Martha Alvidrez, Charles Braggs, Kristine Elford

30 Years

Luz Baldoza, Fred Beck, Judith Bliss, Susan Crosby, Beverly Faust, Carmencita Hernandez, Baulo Irorere, Nancy Owens, Sheila Stelly, Hydee Tuason Ong

25 Years

Lori Braunesreither, Gail Doyle, Neil Jayasekera, Cassandra Kolto, Marguerita Lee, May Loney, Dominique Morris, Sandra Murguia, Judy Ng, Patricia Nicholas, Greta Perez, Anthony Sadler, Ingrid Sanchez, Tasha Scott, Christina Thompson, Sonia Sutherland

20 Years

Andrea Aiello, Liza Arrivas, Eula Banks, Barbara Benedict, Loretta Brown, Sherryl Cacacho, Kathleen Caudel, Mary Costa, Patricia Creel, Maribel Fadrigo, Anntheia Farr, Latricia Johnson, Kathleen Gilman, Chandra Gottschall, Jane Grant, Chito Guevarra, Joy Mendoza, Lorrie Knott, Leaf Laird, Chad Pierce, Brenda Salgado, La Shan Haynes, Avtar Singh, Diana Tinker, Anna Torres, Tina Vanwolbeck

15 Years

Nakima Ayler, Robert Blink, Cinnie Chou, Eve Marie Clancy, Mark Clark, Laurie Crider, Kimberly Ferlise, Sheenna Glover, Miriam Gonzalez, Wendy Jimenez, Vir Kamal Khahera, Scott Kearney, Pramita Kuruvilla, Teresa Lascano, Sonia Lameiras, Yvette Mesa, Detra Morgan, Victoria Mozzetti, Ginafay Peters, William Peterson, James Rael, Fe Reyes, Ching-Ping Riu, Tamara Rivas, Benjamin Shaver, Maria Vargas, Patrick Wilson

10 Years

Kerry Braggs, Donna Brogan, Henry Dedrick, Katherine Dial, Margaret Fabro, Vivien Grays, Genene Hailu, Erin Hall, Kathryn Hall, Malik Haynes, Ryan Macaraeg, Ryan McDermott, Sarah McNeil, Richard McIlroy, Patrice Newell, Ji-Sook Oh, Conswella Preston, Daniel Sobel, Chester Spikes, Jennifer Tsang, Sergio Urcuyo and Lili Wang

Send feedback and story ideas to editor Will Harper at