KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON - Today, the King County Board of Health commended several local health plans, health care organizations, and hospitals for their collaborative work in addressing worsening health trends in our community, particularly for individuals who suffer from, or are at risk for, asthma, diabetes and breast and cervical cancer.
Joining forces under the banner of the King County Health Action Plan, these partners have funded five community programs aimed at helping local residents in these targeted areas. This collaboration evolved three years ago in response to sobering local data showing worsening trends for these health conditions. Over three years they have collectively contributed over $162,000 toward this effort.
Board of Health Chair and King County Councilmember Carolyn Edmonds lauded the groundbreaking work of the partners. "This unique partnership in King County between health care service providers and health plan organizations allows us to reach people that otherwise may have gone without health care," said Edmonds. "It's especially gratifying to see this effort benefiting children and communities of color."
Dr. Alonzo Plough, Director of Public Health — Seattle & King County and Chair of the Action Plan, pointed out that King County is unique in having a collaborative fundraising process for community health programs. "In most cities, the health plans and hospitals hardly talk to each other. Here, we have seen them come to the same table and act in a meaningful way to fund programs that will improve the health of King County residents. I am grateful for this, and congratulate them."
The recognized participants include Children's Hospital and Medical Center, Community Health Plan of Washington, First Choice Health Network, Group Health Community Foundation, PacifiCare of Washington, Premera Blue Cross, 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 Asthma Outreach Project at Odessa Brown Children's Clinic 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 stable and cost-effective approach for families who might otherwise rely on unscheduled emergency care to improve their child's health.
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 three community-based projects providing outreach services to connect low income, isolated diabetic individuals to health services and clinic-based services that improve an individual's ability to self-manage their disease. The three funded projects are the African American Elders Program, Community Diabetes Initiative, and Community Connections for Chronic Disease.
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 Breast and Cervical Health Program at International Community Health Services works 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 Health Action Plan to respond to this need by collectively committing funds to these programs.
Providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services for over 1.8 million residents and visitors of King County, Public Health — Seattle & King County works for safer and healthier communities for everyone, every day.