We need to recognize our county hospital, formerly Chope, now San Mateo Medical Center, as a prestigious provider of health care for those who are underinsured and uninsured and for those in need of mental health assistance. And it is the San Mateo County Health Foundation which plays an indispensable role in its funding. 

John Jurow is the CEO of the foundation. He started his career with San Mateo County in 2009 as an X-ray technician. After being promoted to the administration team at the San Mateo Medical Center and clinics as deputy director of Ancillary Services, he became the CEO of the San Mateo County Health Foundation in March 2020 just a week or so into lockdown from COVID-19.

“If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is the importance of keeping all of our health care facilities open and running to meet the demand of our communities. This includes public hospitals like San Mateo Medical Center and Clinics,” he said.

The San Mateo Medical Center and Clinics serve more than 75,000 people in the community. Its foundation assists the medical center in acquiring necessary equipment and supplies, while program funding relies 100% on community donations.


Jurow was born and raised in San Mateo County. His two boys are now fourth generation county residents. Both of his parents were physicians and his mother was an ER doctor at the hospital when it was Chope. His mother met an immigrant from El Salvador in the ER and asked her if she would help with her five boys and one daughter. “Juventina” became a second mother to them. She raised the children as her own and taught them how to speak Spanish fluently. Jurow says he knew at a very young age he wanted to help people like Juventina realize the American Dream. He attended Burlingame High School and Sonoma State University. As soon as he finished school, he worked in public health care facilities to try and give back to those with less health insurance or none at all.

Today, he says, “I run an organization that helps people in our community get the same great health care that Sutter, Stanford, UCSF and Dignity provide regardless of ability to pay.” Juventina is now in failing health and lives at his home with her sister and his family.


During the pandemic, the large outpouring of support for the San Mateo County Health Foundation’s Meal Train helped countless families and health care workers. Local restaurants donated thousands of meals to frontline workers and to households in need. To celebrate this countywide effort, SMCHF will host its first ever Taste of the County noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 2 at the San Mateo County Event Center. The event will showcase local restaurants, local bands, free beverages at a beer garden and family friendly activities such as a train ride, petting zoo and art table. All proceeds will be donated to SMCHF programs that provide health care access to 80,000 patients a year.

Unlike the overpriced glittery fundraisers for private hospitals that don’t need the money as much, tickets are only $20; $50 for VIP tickets. Tickets can be purchased at smchf.org/toc. You may think you’ll never personally need its services, but remember this hospital has played an indispensable role for our county during COVID and we need to support them.


It’s sad to see Draeger’s transformed into an office and housing complex but let’s hope the Draeger’s grocery and bakery remain. Let’s not forget it was Draeger’s which helped transform San Mateo’s downtown and attract a movie theater.

Decades before, downtown hosted a multitude of big names — J. Magnin, I. Magnin, Livingston’s, Roos Brothers, J.C. Penney, Levy Brothers and two movie theaters. Then with the popularity of Hillsdale Shopping Center, these department stores shut down. So did the movie theaters, bookstores and furniture stores. Downtown was dead until Draeger’s took a chance on the empty Levy Brothers site to build its European-style market which also housed a restaurant, a cooking school and for-sale cookware.

The city was able to point to Draeger’s to entice the Syufy brothers to open a Century movie theater downtown. 

Sue Lempert is the former mayor of San Mateo. Her column runs every Monday. She can be reached at sue@smdailyjournal.com.

Her column runs every Monday. She can be

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