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Community Collab: Creating a Comprehensive Culture of Health

Community Collab: Creating a Comprehensive Culture of Health

If you could enact change that would most effectively and positively impact the health and well-being of the highest risk members of our community, what would you propose? This is just the question that Barbe West, executive director of Southwest Washington Accountable Community of Health (SWACH) was tasked with asking local organizations, agencies and nonprofits across Southwest Washington.

SWACH is one of nine organizations that are part of the Healthier Washington Initiative to promote better health and access for our Medicaid population. In 2017, the state of Washington received a grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency, to develop a five-year plan to improve the quality of health care for Medicaid beneficiaries and address the social determinants of health for this population. Regional Health Alliance (another name for SWACH) was chosen to administer this Medicaid Transformation Project for Clark, Klickitat and Skamania Counties. Seven total healthcare categories were targeted and each organization had to determine which and how many categories would have the greatest impact on positive change in their communities. SWACH chose to concentrate on Primary Care/Behavioral Health Integration, Community Collaboration, Opioid Crisis Response and Chronic Disease. “We posed the question [to nonprofits such as PeaceHealth, Legacy Health, Council for the Homeless, Children’s Center and Share], ‘How can you make systemic change in any of those four areas that would improve the health of the community in the future?’” says West.

The proposed solutions for these challenging problems show the magical thinking that can happen when everyone puts their collective heads together.

Read the rest of this article in the full digital issue below.

Learn more about SWACH here.

Julia Antopol Hirsch lives with her husband and two children in Vancouver, where she is working on her third novel. She is the author of “The Sound of Music: The Making of America’s Favorite Movie,” which was reissued in 2018. She loves to swim and read, and has three mischievous dogs who love to go to the dog park every day.

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