Beloved longtime Santa Cruz County pediatrician, Raelene Walker, MD, FAAP, to take leadership role, provide direct patient care
SANTA CRUZ, CA (FEB. 8, 2022) – Santa Cruz Community Health (SCCH), a leading nonprofit provider of high-quality, affordable, and comprehensive health services to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay, today announced long-time Santa Cruz County pediatrician Dr. Raelene Walker will join its team as the organization’s first Director of the Pediatric Center of Excellence, effective Feb. 14, 2022
The Pediatric Center of Excellence is SCCH’s model for holistic, integrated, and evidence-based services that follows children as they grow starting at birth. For children from low-income families who struggle with housing, food, and other issues, healthy development isn’t a foregone conclusion. SCCH’s medical, behavioral health and case managers ensure that appropriate screenings, interventions, and social and emotional services prevents children from falling through the cracks.
In this critical role, Dr. Walker will bring her leadership and expertise to the development and enhancement of pediatric clinical services and programs serving SCCH’s more than 4,000 pediatric patients.
“I’m thrilled to be selected as the first director of the SCCH Pediatric Center of Excellence,” Dr. Walker said. “I am passionate about working with families and helping Santa Cruz County’s youngest, most vulnerable patients achieve the best health outcomes. I’m looking forward to directing services and providing care for SCCH’s pediatric patients in this exciting time of expansion for SCCH.”
Dr. Walker has been a pediatrician in Santa Cruz County for nearly 20 years, most recently with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. For the past three years, she served as the Pediatric Medical Director of Concurrent Care for Children, a home palliative and hospice program for children through Hospice of Santa Cruz County. She is the immediate past president of the Northern and Central California chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Prior to these positions, Dr. Walker spent more than a decade as a pediatrician at Capitola Pediatrics. She is currently co-chair of the Pediatric Health Workgroup, convened by the Health Improvement Partnership of Santa Cruz County, which guides local providers, schools and parents in their response to COVID in children.
“Dr. Walker is a highly respected pediatrician, and we are elated to bring her on board,” said Leslie Conner, SCCH Chief Executive Officer. “Her expertise — combined with her ability to connect with children and their families from diverse backgrounds — makes her the perfect fit to lead our Pediatric Center of Excellence.”
Currently, more than half of the families served by SCCH live at or below poverty level, 90% live below 200% Federal Poverty Level and, more than 500 of the children served are unhoused.
“In her position, Dr. Walker will be essential in delivering an integrated system of care aimed at breaking generational cycles of poverty and poor health for pediatric patients,” said Dr. Garry Crummer, SCCH Site Medical Director – Pediatrics. “This integrated model allows SCCH to provide appropriate clinical and social interventions that can shield and help heal children from trauma or other circumstantial adversity.”
This newly created position supports SCCH’s expansion in Live Oak with the opening of its Capitola Road clinic slated for late 2022 and its recent opening of a clinic in Ben Lomond to serve the San Lorenzo Valley.
About Santa Cruz Community Health
Through the Santa Cruz Women’s Health Center, the East Cliff Family Health Center and the new clinic in Ben Lomond, Santa Cruz Community Health (a Federally Qualified Health Center) provides comprehensive primary care services in English and Spanish to all ages, genders, ethnicities, abilities and sexual orientation, regardless of their ability to pay. Seeded by the Santa Cruz Women’s Health Center in 1974, SCCH has maintained a 48-year commitment to its mission: to improve the health of its patients and the community and advocate the feminist goals of social, political, and economic equality. SCCH’s health centers serve nearly 12,000 patients through a dedicated staff of medical providers, behavioral health providers, nurses, licensed clinical social workers, health educators, and administrative personnel. Learn more at schealthcenters.org, facebook.com/schealthcenters or on Instagram @schealthcenters.