Jan Johnson

Oregon assesses where it’s at, how far to go to meet public health modernization foundational goals

Oregon is one of three states modernizing its public health system from a 50-year-old, pre-ACA model to one ready to address new emerging threats like the Zika virus, rampant population-level chronic disease and the impacts of climate change. After a long process to define needed foundational capabilities and programs, the state and counties now are assessing where they are on the scale toward meeting them.

The Oregon Health Authority and all 34 local public health departments are identifying where they are now in meeting public health goals and identify gaps.

State Health Improvement Plan Requires Strong Statewide Relationships

To kick off Public Health Week, the Oregon Health Authority pondered its State Health Improvement Plan -- from low-tech communicable disease interventions such as washing hands and food, taking shoes off outside and consuming only dairy products that have been pasteurized to more complex teaming up with partners to fight tobacco industry-backed efforts on retail tobacco sales, and pushing for vaccinations, fluoridation, opioid prescribing coordination and suicide prevention.

In recent years, overdoses have exceeded motor vehicle accidents as the number one cause of death in Oregon.

Health Share Aims for More ‘Authentic’ Community Engagement

Health Share, serving 229,000 people in three counties or about 13 percent of the metropolitan Portland population, has outgrown its original dashboard data reporting tool – just a giant Excel monthly summary of members’ healthcare use, costs and demographics. Now Oregon’s largest coordinated care organization (CCO) told its community advisory council new data tools will peer beyond claims data to look more closely at communities facing health and healthcare disparities to find the story behind the raw information.

Since Health Share formed its data analytics team a year ago, Sandra Clark, project director for community health strategies, says “we’re asking a lot more questions than providing answers.”

Challenges Face Healthcare Workforce in Oregon

Oregon Health Forum workforce panel showcases Washington’s SEIU strides on training, attracting and retaining home-healthcare aides while warning of coming nurse educator shortage.

From doctorate-level nurses to unlicensed aides, workforce development in Oregon has been hampered by heavy student debt loads, burnout and the difficulty attracting diversity among its ranks.

Reproductive Health Access Problematic for Undocumented, Transgender Population

The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners provides a forum for voices who say even in a state known for legal access to reproductive health, many from underserved communities face other access barriers.

Carima Guzman was born in Columbia but lives in Oregon working with Latina survivors of sexual assault. She told the commissioners about the difficulties women without health insurance face navigating the system to get birth control or STI treatment.

Public Health Advisory Council Adopts Charter Focused on Funding and Health Equity

Oregon’s newly refigured Public Health Advisory Board (PHAB) heard how the state and 34 local health authorities are assessing what they do now against an aspirational public health modernization foundational framework. Next up: figuring out what a truly modern public health system will cost.

At the end of 2015, Oregon became the first state to define each modern public health foundational capability and program “detailing out what these mean everyday working in state and local public health,” said Cara Biddlecom of OHA’s Public Health Division.

Northwest Nonprofit Takes on Child Sex Trafficking Prevention in Schools

FamilyCare’s Community Advisory Council toured Northwest Family Services, a nonprofit promoting child well-being and family stability by reducing poverty through health, education and employment. Starting in 2015, the nonprofit added education for Northwest youth at risk for sexual exploitation to its list of substance abuse, suicide, gang and other prevention programs.

Northwest Family Services reached 3,200 Oregon and more than 1,000 Washington mostly middle- and high-school students the first year it offered its Deceptions curriculum.

Health Share to Try Regional Integration of Behavioral Health

By this summer, counties in the Portland metropolitan area will take responsibility for integrating what is now a fragmented behavioral healthcare system, Health Share of Oregon’s Community Advisory Council was told. The coordinated care organization hopes the regional approach will solve decades-old problems.

Starting July 1, Health Share plans to pool money that has been split since the 1990s between physical and mental health to integrate mental health and substance use benefits into one coordinated system.

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