Skagit County Trends
Eastern Washington University
category 100 banner

Building a Healthy Community - About the Population Health Trust

Data is the foundation of good decisions, but how did we arrive here? The Population Health Trust was created in 2015 to serve as a leadership team that would assess the health of the community and develop a plan to improve health. Appointed by the Skagit County Board of Health, the Trust serves as a Health Advisory Committee which identifies local health priorities and recommendations for improving health.

In partnership with Skagit County Public Health, the Trust is the voice of the community to build capacity that transcends the limitations of existing silos of services. The Trust is leading the community in broadening our view of health, looking at the 'whole' person and the 'whole' community. This is a cultural shift needed to build a comprehensive, coordinated, and effective health system in Skagit County.

In 2015, the Board of Health determined, "there is an urgent need for a coordinated approach with healthcare providers, jurisdictions and advocates of community health to develop a county-wide plan that identifies strategies to meet population health needs." Under advisement of the expert leadership team that makes up the Trust, the Board of Health utilizes these recommendations to strengthen public awareness about wellbeing and to build partnerships that mobilize people to work together toward a healthy and sustainable future. The Board of Health's role is to provide governance and accountability to ensure progress toward achieving our mission of "improved health for ALL."

Our mission is a call to action to shift the status quo, provide hope and inspire action. The Trust was established following five years of community conversations about collective action. Assuring the public has access to this vital data dashboard will create opportunities for others to join in the conversation, take action and improve the health of people in Skagit County.

The work of the Trust follows the Robert Wood Johnson County Health Rankings approach to improving health. The Trust is also guided by a Health Action Framework focused on:

  • Making health a shared value
  • Fostering cross-sector collaboration to improve well-being
  • Creating healthier more equitable communities
  • Strengthening integration of health services and systems

Our Partners

We are very proud of our Population Health Trust partners and continually inspired by their dedication to Skagit County people and their commitment to better health for ALL. Fiscal contributions by Trust organizations make this site possible.

Our Approach

To arrive at this current set of indicators, Trust members in collaboration with the EWU team hosted 8 community focus groups and invited a wide range of partners to review and select the indicators most relevant to Skagit County. Over 150 data stakeholders participated in this open process which has yielded our first community driven data dashboard.

A set of principles informed the votes of our focus groups. We asked participants to consider that their choices of indicators be based on the following criteria:

  • Important to large numbers of the community
  • Based on valid measurements, as defined by good science
  • Understandable to the general public
  • Defined to allow comparisons to Washington State, the U.S. or those in similar sized communities
  • Available repeatedly over time to allow trend analysis
  • Easily accessible
  • Sourced from credible sites, largely federal, state & local governments

A community indicators project must receive its inspiration, general direction, and ultimately, validity from the citizens themselves. Appropriately, the Skagit County Trends project has convened individuals representing many groups, organizations and businesses for focus groups over the spring and early summer of 2016.

In Memoriam

Terry BelcoeTerry was a Skagit County Health Champion for many years. This data dashboard had been one of his goals, which demonstrates collective action and signifies people are working on common outcomes. This was Terry's passion. Terry would suggest we study the data and start taking action. We dedicate the launch of this website to our dear friend, Terry Belcoe.
April 19, 1956 to September 23, 2016.

The role of Eastern Washington University

A team of students, faculty and staff have developed the content of this site. Working with the Skagit County Trends steering committee, the team will keep the site's information current, adding information as soon as it is released from the various local, state and federal sources.

The university's development team is a cooperative effort of two groups from Eastern Washington University (EWU): The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis and the Center for Digital Media Design and Development. The team members in these two programs have been responsible for the overall development of this project and its ongoing maintenance.

The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis
The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis (Institute) is a program within EWU's Colleges of Business and Public Administration and Social & Behavioral Sciences. Its goal is to bring the talent of the university to bear on concrete concerns of the Inland Pacific Northwest. The Institute secured the initial funds for this project, facilitated the focus groups, gathered the statistical data and developed the content of this site. Institute teams have also created several other similar indicator websites throughout eastern Washington, including the following counties: Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Grant, Kootenai, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Skagit and Walla Walla. The Institute's Director is Dr. Patrick Jones. Scott Richter is the Community Indicators Manager at the Institute. His responsibilities include all of the indicator projects, including Grant County, Northeast Washington, Spokane County, Kootenai County, Chelan and Douglas Counties, Benton and Franklin Counties, Skagit County, and Walla Walla County. Brian Kennedy is the Institute's Data Analyst. Brian is responsible for all of the statistical input on this site, as well as for the Institute's other sites. Coral Wonderly is the Institute's Student Economic Research Intern, and assists with the collection and analysis of the site's data (Sam Wolkenhauer, Ryne Rohla, Jeremy Marinos and James Merchant previously served in this role). Matt Lower is the Institute's Student Community Indicator Intern, and assists with website maintenance and electronic publishing (E.B. Vodde, Billy Lei, Elizabeth Backstrom, Matt Parson and Noelle Madera previously served in this role).

The Center for Digital Media Design and Development
The Center for Digital Media Design and Development (Center) is a collaborative extension of EWU's Departments of Computer Science and Engineering & Design. Development projects for campus and off-campus clients give students the opportunity to apply their skills in a real-world experience. Students are coordinated into on-going teams based on their skills, and are guided by a formal scope of work, concept development, style sheet, and structured goals, while under faculty supervision. The Center is directed by Dr. Linda Kieffer (509.359.7093). Dr. James Braukmann previously directed the Center, and contributed to this and the other indicator projects. The goal of a university is the graduation of its students; therefore, our team is constantly changing as our students graduate. Charged with the overall design for Skagit County Trends has been Katie Lilly ('12). Charged with programming have been Tyson Miller ('12) and Kandyce Moore ('10).