SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — Sacramento County appointed Chevon Kothari as the director of the Department of Health Services on May 4, roughly four months after Dr. Peter Beilensen left the role vacant.
Kothari previously served as the chief deputy director of the California Department of Social Services for most of the COVID-19 pandemic. And before that, she worked for six years as the director of Mariposa County Health and Human Services Agency.
Kothari officially started with Sacramento County on May 9 and, on May 13, she sat down with ABC10 to share some of her thoughts on how she wants to help Sacramento County.
What should people in Sacramento County know about you?
Kothari said she believes her background, including 25 years of experience, and the current team in the department of health services will be able to create solutions and engage all communities within Sacramento County with a focus on health equity.
"I think that we need to be working with our partners to have an impact on what we call social determinants of health, which is really all of those factors that impact the health of individuals, families and communities and those include things like housing, it includes things like access to nutrition nutritional foods, it includes things like access to education or work or child care," Kothari said.
How do you plan to build trust with communities within Sacramento County?
Listening and recognizing that community-based organizations are key, Kothari said, with members of the communities within Sacramento County knowing what they need.
"We know that a one-size-fits-all model does not work, we know that we have to be creative, we have to think outside of the box, and we have to really develop strategies that are unique to the unique needs of the communities that we serve and we serve a variety of diverse communities and we need to make sure that we're responsive to that. And so I think part of that trust-building is once again really listening hearing and implementing solutions based on the experts who have expertise in their own life experiences," Kothari said.
Could Sacramento County benefit from having health specialists join law enforcement officers on certain service calls?
The Department of Health Services partnership with law enforcement should become an integral part of providing a comprehensive approach to wellness, Kothari said.
"Through my experience but also through the research, we know that when somebody is in crisis and whether it's a mental health crisis or a substance abuse disorder crisis or any other type of crisis, it often does take a multidisciplinary team approach," Kothari said. "We really want to wrap around people and make sure that they get the support that they need to be able to start to stabilize, start to heal, start to recover."
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