Man standing in front of office cubicles in doctor's office
Dr. Peter Fung is running for the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, hoping to improve access to and awareness of the county's health care systems. Photo courtesy of Peter Fung.

Neurologist Dr. Peter Fung wants to parlay his years of health care experience into a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and use it to improve care quality.

Fung, a 76-year-old retired neurologist, joins a crowded race for District 5 supervisor as incumbent Joe Simitian terms out and runs for Congress. Fung will face off against Mountain View Councilmember Margaret Abe-Koga, California Board of Equalization Member Sally Lieber, former Cupertino Mayor Barry Chang and Los Altos businessman Sandy Sans.

“I want to learn and feel about what my constituents are concerned about,” Fung told San José Spotlight. “I want to be in their shoes.”

Fung, who lives in Los Altos Hills, has worked to improve health care access and quality throughout his time as a physician. He sits on the El Camino Health board of directors and led the hospital’s stroke program for a decade, which is named in his honor.

Fung said he has heard from supporters in the medical community, but was initially surprised by the support from non-medical groups.

“What that demonstrates is there (is) a lot of discontent within our county,” Fung said. “I think, if they are satisfied, they are happy, they would not try to contact a newly entered candidate with so much interest.”

Fung helped found the El Camino Hospital Chinese Health Initiative, which was the first health program in the Bay Area designed to specifically cater to the Chinese community. He said at the time he was hearing from friends and family that it was difficult for Chinese community members to find medical information and support. Through his stroke program, he furthered community awareness and education about the dangers and risk of strokes. He added that El Camino Hospital has consistently received five stars from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which rates hospital quality nationwide.

About half of the county’s $11.3 billion budget is spent on health care — funding multiple medical centers and emergency and behavioral health services, among other health expenditures — and it’s expecting a $158 million structural deficit by next fiscal year.

Fung said fixing the county’s health care system is key to addressing a plethora of issues, as well as helping improve its fiscal health.

“The affordability is impossible in Silicon Valley,” Fung said. “We are in the epicenter of the best innovation in the world, and we cannot take care of our own people.”

Improving the county’s health services would benefit homelessness and crime, Fung said, adding that more than one third of the county’s unhoused population is “gravely disabled” and could be supported by the state’s Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Act program. He said the county also needs to better support health care professionals, especially mental health providers, to improve access and quality.

After retiring in 2022, Fung said he has been working toward receiving a master’s degree in business administration at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, which he said will strengthen his leadership skills. He is slated to graduate from the program in June.

Donald Sibery, a former colleague of Fung’s who was interim CEO of El Camino Hospital in 2017 and whose work overlapped with Fung’s time as board chair, praised his work ethic and moral compass.

“Dr. Fung is willing to take the time necessary to formulate his position on issues,” Sibery said in the statement. “He thinks through it very carefully, speaks with people who have differing positions than his own and then crafts a balanced point of view and communicates it effectively.”

Contact B. Sakura Cannestra at [email protected] or @SakuCannestra on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Comment Policy (updated 5/10/2023): Readers are required to log in through a social media or email platform to confirm authenticity. We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, hate speech, excess profanity or make verifiably false statements. Comments are moderated and approved by admin.

Leave a Reply