Our Local Government and the Medical Society — How do we work together for the betterment of the citizens of San Antonio and Bexar County?

This May, the citizens of San Antonio and surrounding areas will elect Mayors and city council members. As physicians, it is important that we have a good knowledge of where they stand, especially on community health care issues. We hold them accountable for other issues, such as education/libraries, taxes and public works improvements. Those are definitely important issues. These priorities are on the ballot this May with the proposed $850 million 2017-2022 Bond Project for the city of San Antonio (http://www.sanantonio.gov/2017Bond).

Local leaders impact health care both directly and indirectly. It is imperative that we also hold them accountable for health issues that affect our patients and the community. In order to help facilitate this, the Medical Society has issued a challenge to the candidates running for positions in San Antonio. We have submitted a series of questions to the candidates asking about topics including healthy eating, transportation, violence, mental health, access to health care, and others. We will be posting their replies on our social media sites for all our members to read. We hope that this will allow you to make a more informed decision when it comes to casting your vote.

Leah Jacobson, MD
2017 BCMS President

An informative report with regards to these issues is the 2016 Bexar County Community Health Needs Assessment ( 2016 Bexar County Community Health Needs Assessment: Full Report (PDF, 160 pp) ). The 2016 Assessment sought to "support Bexar County partners in moving from knowing about local health needs and outcomes to changing those outcomes. " Healthy People 2020 defines "health equity" as the “attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities.”1 We must keep these ideals in mind when we and our local leaders make important decisions for our community.

As one of the largest cities in the United States, San Antonio does not have a health and human services advisory committee to help educate and guide our local city leaders on these matters. We do have a great group of health visionaries through the Health Collaborative of Bexar County, but I believe that local leaders would benefit from a group of advisors as these leaders deal with health-related issues. We, at the Medical Society, feel privileged to have been invited to participate in the selection of the next Metropolitan Health Director. It is collaborative efforts such as this that will allow our members to have a bigger voice in this community. The Medical Society will continue to work on various efforts to increase our presence and involvement in our community — be it with the city of San Antonio, Bexar County, or surrounding cities/municipalities.

I look forward to meeting and working with county and city leaders on health care issues that affect us and our patients. If there are particular topics that you feel are important for the Medical Society to know about, please contact us (leahjacobson.bcms2017@gmail.com).

We are a GREAT city, but we have room for improvement. Remember — every vote counts. Let's help make a difference!

Leah Jacobson, MD, is the 2017 president of the Bexar County Medical Society.

1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (2010). Healthy People 2020. Washington, D.C. https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/about/foundation-health-measures/Disparities

For past President's Messages Click Here.