In December 2013, the Washington State Healthcare Authority released a five-year plan that emphasized building healthier communities through a broad collaborative, regional approach. Six months later, following the award of a regional grant to assist with this work, a group of Kittitas County organizations began meeting regularly to identify one health issue in the county that could be addressed using a regional approach.
Organizations involved in the ongoing discussions cover a broad range of service areas including health care, mental health, dental health, public health, K-12 and university education, social service agencies, and law and justice. While not all of these agencies are directly involved in providing health care, all provide services that can have an impact on health.
In December, the group selected early intervention for children 5-17 years of age who have or are at risk for a mental health disorder or illness as the single issue to focus their efforts. The next step for the group will be to implement an action plan which focuses on prevention strategies that target early behaviors that lead to or contribute to substance abuse issues.
“We believe that the collective impact of the group will produce better long term outcomes than if each agency were to approach the issue alone,” said Cathy Bambrick, Chief Operating Officer for Kittitas Valley Healthcare. “This type of coordinated approach has already been successful within Kittitas County with the creation of the very successful Emergency Management Council.”
Group discussions for the regional health planning work has been facilitated by Kittitas Valley Healthcare, Kittitas County Public Health Department, and the Community Choice Healthcare Network.