Providence Institute for a Healthier Community

Working with partners to create the healthiest community

2016MLA-NWW-HealthyCommunitiesIf you wanted to create the healthiest community in your state, how would you do it? You’d naturally want to include local health care providers in your conversation, but improving health across a large group also takes a commitment from the wider community to increase people’s knowledge about healthy lifestyles, from exercise and eating right to fighting stress and depression.

That’s why Providence caregivers in Snohomish County, Wash., created the Providence Institute for a Healthier Community in 2014.

In its first two years, the institute has been laying important groundwork. Through surveys, focus groups and listening sessions, the institute is creating a health and well-being index. A Youth Council has been created and in 2016 the group will focus on reducing violence and addictions of all types, and on creating healthy relationships.

The Complete Health Improvement Program is a two-year study now underway on the effects of lifestyle modifications. The program offers participants nutritional information, education on managing health conditions, medical screenings, stress management strategies, group support and tips for success through video learning and facilitated discussions.

In its first year, the Gear Up & Go program for area fifth-graders resulted in an average 15 percent increase in physical activity. The program’s aim is to combat childhood obesity. Now more than 70 schools have committed to a common agenda and youth activity goals. The institute has also compiled a countywide database of health care providers and a guide to community health classes and other resources.

The institute is a leading member of the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition, a group of nearly 50 community and governmental groups. Working separately and in collaboration, they are trying to help the people of Snohomish County live longer and happier lives, and to ensure they are in the best health possible at every stage of life.

It will take time and sustained effort for Snohomish County to achieve this ambitious goal, but things are off to a strong start.