|Population Health Trust August Newsletter August 20, 2021 |
Hey Skagit, we heard you! Thank you to those who joined us at our recent Community Health Forums in Concrete, Anacortes, and Burlington. Thank you, too, to those who attended our Listening Session for indigenous language-speaking community leaders held earlier this month. Here are some of the highlights from our Community Health Forums: Close to 100 total participants! 5 language groups represented Input provided on topics such as housing, access to care, behavioral health (mental health and substance use), childcare needs and more Additional concerns raised around climate change, discrimination against indigenous people and access to dental care Going into these forums, the Trust expected to hear from the community that behavioral health services are greatly needed, especially now as a result of the pandemic. We also expected to hear about housing challenges in Skagit County and the lack of safe and affordable housing for our residents. What we didn’t expect was number of participants who expressed concern about access to care. We heard loud and clear that certain community members are struggling to receive medical services, and that locations, operating hours, and cultural differences all create barriers for these individuals and families to access adequate care. We heard that for those who speak different languages and who have different cultural norms, a sense of mistrust can develop in care settings. One Forum participant indicated that it is critical that doctors “speak your language”. Much discussion centered on how they would love to see medical providers with the same culture and language as their patients. Another Forum participant spoke of the fear that certain cultures have regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. They said that their fears could be abated by a trusted professional who takes time to both listen and provide relevant information—something that can be so challenging to do when capacity, staffing, and time is limited. Access to care was not just a topic of concern for those who speak different languages; our unhoused and housing-challenged populations, and those who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community spoke about challenges to getting care. Mistrust of the healthcare system is a very real challenge that we must work to overcome for these marginalized groups. Community members had many ideas for improving access to care in Skagit County. Some of their ideas included: Training and education for doctors about the language, culture and needs of patients, using real-life experiences of local patients Develop on-going methods for listening to needs of non-English speaking patients and addressing their concerns A resource hub that is straight-forward, safe, culturally appropriate that would include a wide range of services Expand and continue pandemic efforts like pop-up vaccine clinics or Street Medicine Employ patient-advocates who are embedded in the communities and cultures of all people in Skagit County. To be effective, these advocates must be valued and viewed as critical parts of the larger care team The Trust truly appreciates each and every community member who took the time to attend a forum and share their thoughts on community health and wellness. We could not do the work that we do without your feedback and input. Thank you!