Future after 50: Snohomish Health District asks community to set health goals

SNOHOMISH COUNTY — No cake, no candles. Snohomish Health District is celebrating its Golden Anniversary by retooling its strategy for meeting the public health needs of the community.

Snohomish Health District, governed by a 15-member panel of elected officials, launched an aggressive and collaborative process in late March to discern the community's priorities for public health. The process will culminate in a strategic plan by early June, in time to guide the Health Board in deciding where to direct diminishing funds.

"In the United States, we take Public Health for granted, and that's a good thing," said Jim Flower, Sultan councilman and chairman of the Health Board. "It means success. It means that we have won the major battles that plagued previous generations.

"We are well protected in this country and this county, thanks to a long history of the efforts of Public Health," said Mr. Flower. "We congratulate our local agency, the Snohomish Health District, for service to the people of Snohomish County for 50 years.

Because of the community nature of public health, the Health Board opened the planning process to local community partners, inviting their help to discern the top public health goals in Snohomish County.

"To clarify the priorities of our mission, we need the input of a broad spectrum of stakeholders throughout the county," said Mr. Flower. "Revenue to support programs may be shrinking, but our mandate stays the same: To do the best we can for Public Health."

Concurrent with the strategic planning initiative, the Health District published Signals 2, an update on local health indicators in seven categories: overall health, environmental health, communicable disease, pregnant women and families, injury, tobacco, alcohol and illegal drug use, and mental health. Planners and others can use the information to target problem health areas. Highlights from Signals 2 available here

A Steering Committee of 13 community leaders will guide the effort. Seventy-one other community leaders are providing input through five advisory groups: Health Care, Human Services, Business & Labor, Public Agencies, and Education & Early Childhood Development.

The Board also wants to hear from the community-at-large. Snohomish Health District will facilitate five public meetings throughout the county to invite the grassroots view of goals and needs for the health of the community:

Arlington - 6:30-8:30 p.m., Monday, April 13, Haller Middle School, 600 E. 1st St, 98223

Everett - 6:30-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 14, Snohomish Health District, 3020 Rucker Ave, 98201

Lynnwood - 6:30-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 21, First Baptist Church of Martha Lake, 17319 Larch Way, 98037

Mill Creek - 6:30-8:30 p.m., Thursday, April 23, Southeast Family YMCA, 13723 Puget Park Dr, 98208

Monroe - 6:30-8:30 p.m., Thursday, April 30, Frank Wagner Elementary School, 115 Dickinson Rd, 98272

Local public health ensures safe drinking and recreational waters; vaccinates for life-threatening diseases such as polio, diphtheria, and pneumonia; controls and prevents food borne illnesses, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis; oversees sanitary disposal of waste; and promotes healthy lifestyles to prevent injuries, chronic diseases, and infant mortality.

Established in 1959, the Snohomish Health District works for a safer and healthier community through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats. Find more information about the Health District here.

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