Board of Health hears about schools' challenges, community needs, project proposals
LWVSJ Observer Corps* Summary of May 17, 2023 Board of Health meeting.
TheAccountable Communities of Health (ACH) has been receiving project proposals and providing funds for community health projects. A future meeting will have a presentation the projects. The Community Collaboration Committee (CCC) met at the Recovery Café and county employee Kristin Rezabek has joined the CCC. They will try and get the EDC and the Village at the Harbor to coordinate on plans for Home Health Aide training.
North Sound Behavioral Health Organization Joe Valentine presented a summary of the needs assessment of the five-county region, which is well below needs in both mental health and addiction service beds and outpatient services. The State, in recognition the shortfall in the region, provided $40 million in capital fund to add facilities, including one on Whidbey Island and another in Snohomish county, both of which can treat combined mental/health and addiction issues which often go together. Service shortfalls remain high.
San Juan County has no in-patient facilities and very limited out-patient services. Need is growing faster than population. The biggest challenge is staffing. The state has approved funds for a 15% wage increase for behavioral health staff next year. Read the Executive Summary at: https://nsbhaso.org/news-and-events/north-sound-bhaso-assessment/North%20Sound%20BH-ASO%20Assessment%20Executive%20Summary.pdf
The superintendents of San Juan, Orcas, and Lopez School districts reported on the challenges the schools are facing as mental health and behavioral issues have increased dramatically during and since Covid. This is particularly severe and challenging to address among elementary age students. Students’ needs and demands for services are outstripping staff availability and capabilities. Parents are stressed and often not able to support their children; whole family services are needed. Covid stalled maturity levels so students often behave in ways typical of younger kids, requiring schools to focus on teaching kids social and organizational skills, how to be students and how to be in community. Upticks in substance abuse are a response to the stress and anxiety students face. Staff are stressed and turnover is high, resulting in instability.
The County Health Department surveyed reproductive health services and their importance to community health, noting the gaps in the county including lack of: cultural, trauma informed, equitable and coordinated care; translations services; after hours services, ensuring partner sexually transmitted infection follow-up; community outreach and communication and equitable access to pregnancy testing and contraception.
The Community Wellness van has a full schedule of events including vaccination clinics in May and all ferry served Islands.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranked San Juan County #1 in the state for health outcomes, though gaps exists: https://www.countyhealthrankings.org/reports/2023-county-health-rankings-national-findings-report.
United Way has a report out on working adults with limited assets and income just over the threshold to access many public services: https://www.unitedwayalice.org/county-reports/washington
The next meeting will be June 28 with an update on the PFAS contamination in Hannah heights.
*The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization encourages informed participation in government. The Observer Corps attends and takes notes at government meetings to expand public understanding of public policy and decisions. The notes do not necessarily reflect the views of the League or its members.