TACOMA – Pierce County Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) partners have identified the two top health priorities for the county as mental health, acknowledging a substance abuse connection; and access to quality health care and community services, with a health equity focus.
Community groups and residents selected the priorities from among the Pierce County Community Health Assessment data findings, unveiled in February. That assessment showed that the county’s top five health issues are mental health, substance abuse, access to quality health services, health disparities, and protecting and improving the environment.
“The community acknowledges that chronic disease and mental health issues are the source of many of our poor health issues,” said Anthony L-T Chen, MPH, MD, director of health. “And collaborative efforts that focus on prevention provide the path toward solutions. The CHIP will provide all of those who are focused on improving our county’s health with a clear road map to building a health community,” he said.
In detail, the two priorities are:
Mental health, acknowledging a substance abuse connection. One of the most important issues facing Pierce County is mental health, and there is often a close association of substance abuse issues. This priority includes exploring what activities, programs, or policies can support a system that promotes positive mental health and healthy development for individuals, families, and communities. It also acknowledges the need to increase the availability of and improving coordination among mental health treatment providers.
Access to quality health care and community services, with a health equity focus. All Pierce County residents should be able to get the services and support they need to move toward better health. Without fair and just access to things like healthy foods, health insurance, places and options for exercise, good transportation, culturally appropriate health education materials, and smoking cessation classes, people’s health is often compromised. This issue is strongly tied to health equity, a term used to address disparities among vulnerable groups such as residents with low incomes and minority races.
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department conducted the year-long community health assessment in partnership with MultiCare Health System, Franciscan Health System and the University of Washington-Tacoma Nursing & Healthcare Leadership and School of Social Work. The assessment process included input from community residents, leaders, and partners, as well as extensive health data and survey information.
The CHIP, with practical action steps, will provide valuable information on the county’s top health priorities in order to address them as effectively as possible. Community partners can use the plan in their strategic planning, budget preparation, collaboration, grant writing and other efforts. Core planning partners anticipate a June completion date for this long-term, strategic plan to address the county’s two top health priorities.
For more information on the CHIP, visit www.tpchd.org/about/community-
About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to safeguard and enhance the health of the communities of Pierce County. As part of its mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.