Why does the Champion Provider Fellowship matter now more than ever?

Welcome to the Champion Provider Fellowship blog! In this inaugural post, I thought I would talk a bit about who we are as a community and why we matter now more than ever. Let’s start with who we are. We are physicians, dentists, leaders in public health and in the community. We are connected by a common goal of fighting epidemics in diabetes, obesity, and dental disease. We do this by thinking beyond the silos of clinic walls, instead pushing ourselves to address the policies, systems, and environmental structures that need to change to create healthier communities. Since 2014, over 100 fellows from over 30 counties statewide have graduated from the Champion Provider Fellowship. These fellows are making their voices heard when it comes to creating safe spaces for physical activity, developing policies that address food insecurity, advocating for children’s oral health, and so much more. Just browse our success stories and you will get an idea of the broad reach and impact of our work.

This past year has been transformative for the Champion Provider Fellowship. As practicing providers our fellows have been at the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, many working in communities of color and low-income areas disproportionately burdened by poor outcomes. The same structural inequities that contribute to patients experiencing disparities in diabetes, obesity, and dental disease, also leave them vulnerable to COVID-19. Our fellows were quick to recognize this double burden and act. Let me share one example of how Dr. Pedro Moreno, a family medicine physician in Salinas and Champion Provider fellow, has provided care to farmworkers for decades. Early on in the pandemic, he called attention to the ways in which COVID-19 placed farmworkers at high risk. Farmworkers, who often suffer from chronic conditions like diabetes and obesity that contribute to worse outcomes from COVID-19, were stuck between choosing to continue to work in crowded conditions without protective equipment, placing themselves at risk of infection, or staying at home and losing their only source of income. As Pedro put it, “There are three pandemics right now. The pandemic of COVID-19, the pandemic of poverty, and the pandemic of fear” ( Pedro has advocated for farmworkers throughout the pandemic, calling for protective equipment, access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines. The work that Champion Provider fellows do to promote health equity is desperately needed…now more than ever. This blog is a place where we can bring attention to this work and highlight the leaders involved. You will hear from healthcare, public health, and community experts. Over the course of the next several months, they will share their call to action on topics that include school meal programs, healthcare provider well-being, and early childhood dental care. We invite you to partner with us in making the changes needed to create healthier communities.

Dr. Wagahta Semere is Director, Champion Provider Fellowship and Assistant Professor of Medicine at University of California San Francisco at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.


Why does the Champion Provider Fellowship matter now more than ever?