Skagit County Trends Newsletter

WELCOME!
A YEAR IN REVIEW - 2017
DAVID JEFFERSON & KRISTEN EKSTRAN
SKAGIT COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH

Skagit Valley Trends logo

What a year! Health care access and the health of communities has dominated the news headlines in Skagit County as it has throughout the country with concerns about the Affordable Care Act provisions, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and opioids. Locally, the Population Health Trust is keeping an eye on national, regional and local trends and challenges. In July, we published a document titled, "10 Priority Areas to Improve the Health &Wellness of Skagit County Residents" that outlines 10 priorities to guide the work of the Trust, our community partners, the Skagit County Board of Health and Public Health in addressing critical areas of concern for the community.

Through monthly meetings and concerted multi-sector collaborative efforts focused on a set of priorities, the Population Health Trust gives all of us, many reasons to be hopeful. We can see initiatives rolling out and new and different approaches to complex situations taking root.

Here are some examples of efforts that have unfolded toward the priority areas in 2017:

Membership:

  • We said goodbye to Andrea Doll who served on the Trust for 3 years in the role of our Western Skagit representative. Andrea was active on the Steering Committee and helped launch a community forum on Anacortes. She has attended numerous Anacortes community groups and was a tireless liaison between the community and the Trust.
  • Duncan West retired because of a job change and Murray Laidley replaced him for a short while and has since retired too. We are very grateful for Duncan's contribution to the Trust and the Opioid Workgroup. We also thank Murray for his willingness to step in and be part of our work.
  • There is a good chance that our Criminal Justice representative Charlie Wend may be retiring too. We will miss him because of his robust contribution and participation in the last 3 years. The Law and Justice Council is going to put forward a candidate for consideration.
  • We are in the process of recruiting 3 new members which will be presented to the Board of Health in 2018 for acceptance.

Opioids:

  • The Community-Wide Opioid Plan and Call to Action was endorsed by the Board of Health on March 7, 2017.
  • Public Health is preparing a Pharmaceutical Stewardship ordinance that would establish expanded secure medication return opportunities throughout the county.
  • The OWLT met with Congressman Larsen to discuss Skagit County's plan and federal support of local opioid reduction efforts.
  • The Swinomish Tribe opened the didgwálič Wellness Center to serve native and non-native people with Opioid use disorders.
  • Skagit Regional Health has implemented Evidenced-base prescribing practices.

Maternal and Child Health:
The Trust is addressing the second priority item from their list of 10 and has spent the last 6 month doing extensive ground work. The First 1,000 Days (maternal and child health) initiative pre-planning is complete and which has brought together a variety of local and state community partners. This is a significant opportunity to strengthen the foundation for families by addressing social determinants of health and building better pathways to health.

  • Completed extensive survey of 483 families in the community with children 5 and younger.
  • Steering Committee has planned a family advisory group workshop that will launch in January 2018. The project goal is to; analyze data, learn about services, and to develop a plan to improve health and wellness for families of Skagit County.

Resources for Community Collaboration:

When asked in an interview about how the community was using the Trends website, Phil Brockman, Superintendent of Sedro Woolley School District, responded, "In the Population Health Trust, our dialogue revolves around data and how data is used to inform decision-making. Whether it's addressing the opioid epidemic or early learning, the conversations that are being had are resulting in action. I personally appreciate using data to take the next steps in providing for the well-being of Skagit County residents."

Housing and Homelessness:

  • Mount Vernon passed an ordinance allowing a Permanent Supported Housing project to move forward. The County, Trust members and multiple partners joined to educate and advocate around the importance of Permanent Supported Housing.
  • Community Action and the League of Women Voters organized a candidate forum on Housing and Homelessness. Fourteen candidates running for city council were present. This was a great example of multi-sector collaboration.

Wellness and Safety:

  • Highly successful free firearm lockbox event sponsored by Seattle Children's: 350 lockboxes, 50 trigger locks and 600 cable locks were distributed to about 500 people.
  • Food RX program provided food vouchers, education and resources to individuals with food insecurity and chronic disease status. By partnering, WSU extension, United Hospital District 304 and Skagit Valley Farmers Market Coalition increased purchases of fruits and vegetables.

We are looking forward to another fruitful year of collaboration in 2018. We know that working together, focusing our efforts around common goals and supporting the needs of our community can and will lead to improved health for ALL.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year!