Table Nine at Wednesday’s Healthy Santa Cruz County 2025 conference had a bright vision for a healthier county.
Sonia Sanchez with Circles of Peace imagined more bike lanes, better education and more jobs. Doug Crunk of the Arizona Department of Health Services hoped for “open access to college education for everybody.” Assistant Nogales Fire Chief William Sanchez sketched out the infrastructure necessary for a growing and healthier county. And Nogales Mercado director Santos Yescas said that there should be better access to “healthy food and health services.”
After all the table’s participants had shared their two cents, Crunk chimed in saying, “I’m seeing dollar signs, dollar signs, dollar signs.”
All around them at other tables in the Esplendor Resort ballroom, more than 50 attendees representing numerous area communities and organizations laid out the health challenges the county faces, from an aging population and limited public transportation to scarce job opportunities for young people and poor food options, and possible solutions to them.
The event was organized by the Rio Rico Fire District, Southwest Arizona Area Health Education Center (SEAHEC) and the Tubac Health Care Foundation. Jen Bek, board member at the Tubac Health Care Foundation, said that the main goal of the day-long event was to develop “a joint vision of the key initiatives we need to work on to improve the health of our citizens and that we develop some passion in people in working toward that goal.”
After going through the discussions and conclusions of each table over the course of the day, Rio Rico Fire District Chief Les Caid said he hopes to get participants back together to start working toward the goals laid out Wednesday.
“These are the first steps on a long journey to better health for Santa Cruz County,” he said.
“We’ve got to now start looking at what the priorities were that everybody at that meeting spoke to and then try to follow up with some steering committees to try and look at these issues.”
Caid said participants will hopefully be able to start pressuring elected officials to take steps toward the visions of a healthier county they developed.
“We can’t really look for government to do anything but eventually put policy into place,” he said.
“The grassroots effort for that change has to come out of the local areas.”