Called the Community Benefits Program, this unlikely collaboration evolved two years ago in response to sobering local data showing worsening trends for these health conditions. To date they have collectively contributed over $100,000 toward this effort.
Board of Health Chair and King County Councilman Greg Nickels lauded the groundbreaking work of the partners. "A unique partnership has been formed in King County among health care service providers and health plan organizations to create a collaborative fundraising effort for community health programs. This effort allows us to reach people that may have otherwise gone without health care. We are grateful for their hard work, and congratulate them on their success."
"In most cities, the health plans and hospitals seldom talk with each other. Here, we have seen them come to the table together, acting in a meaningful way to fund programs that will improve the health of King County residents," said Dr. Alonzo Plough, Director of Public Health — Seattle & King County and Chair of the Health Action Plan.
The award winners include the Community Health Plan of Washington, Children's Hospital and Medical Center, First Choice Health Network, Group Health Community Foundation, PacifiCare of Washington, Premera Blue Cross, Regence Blue Shield, Swedish Health Services, and Virginia Mason Medical Center.
These partners have focused their collaborative efforts in the following areas:
- Children with Asthma: Hospitalizations for children with asthma have increased by more than 25% over the last ten years in King County. The Odessa Brown Children's Center received funding for its efforts to provide intensive clinic and home visits to inner-city children who suffer from asthma. These visits provide a more cost-effective approach for families who might otherwise rely on unscheduled emergency care to improve their child's health.
- African Americans with Diabetes: African Americans with diabetes have a diabetes-related death rate that is nearly four times higher as compared to whites in King County. Funding has gone to the African American Elders Program and the Community Diabetes Initiative for outreach services and program development to provide assistance to low income and isolated diabetic individuals.
- Cancer Screening for Vietnamese Women: Vietnamese women are much less likely than other women to obtain breast and cervical cancer screening tests. Data from 1998 indicates that only 8% of Vietnamese women reported ever having a Pap test. This is considerably lower than the average rate for all of King County where overall 92% of women reported ever having a Pap test. Additionally, only 18% of Vietnamese women age 50 and older reported having had both a clinical breast exam and mammogram within the past two years which is also considerably lower than the average King County rate. The International Community Health Services clinic hopes to increase the number of Vietnamese women screened through outreach and educational services.
History of the King County Health Action Plan
In 1999, the King County Health Action Plan, a coalition of public and private health care organizations acting to improve the health status and health system performance in King County, researched data and identified community programs that needed assistance to better serve their at-risk populations. Health care plans and hospitals were convened by the Action Plan to respond to this need by collectively committing funds to programs for at least three years.
In response to successful results in the first year of the program, three additional funders joined the founding partners in 2000. The organizations currently participating in the Community Benefits Program are: Community Health Plan of Washington, Children's Hospital and Medical Center, First Choice Health Network, Group Health Community Foundation, PacifiCare of Washington, Premera Blue Cross, Regence Blue Shield, Swedish Health Services, and Virginia Mason Medical Center.
For more information on the King County Health Action Plan, please visit their web pages at
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