Let’s Meet Our Population Health trust!

Last week we re-introduced the Skagit County Population Health Trust and highlighted the work that this group is currently undertaking in regards to COVID-19 response. For many people, this may have been the first time that they’d heard of the Trust! While a lot of what this group does can be viewed as “high level,” everything that the Trust accomplishes has a direct effect on our wellbeing here in Skagit County. For this reason, it is important that we know what the Trust is, who its members are, and what they’re working on.

So, to continue this re-introduction, we will be highlighting our Trust members individually over the next several weeks. These individuals play a critical role within the Trust, representing important community sectors such as healthcare, schools, government, community services, business…and so many more!

To begin, we interviewed Chris Johnston, CAO at PeaceHealth United General Medical Center. Here’s what we learned about Chris:

Q: What health topic are you most committed to improving for Skagitonians?

Chris Johnston, CAO PeaceHealth United General Medical Center

A:  We (PeaceHealth) are committed to four areas of equal importance.  1) Addressing food insecurity  2) Increasing housing access  3) Advancing community care and 4) Improving mental health and preventing substance use. Together with partnered organizations, we help find solutions and support the incredible work already underway in our community.  

As an example, we supported:

  • Increasing access to healthy foods through Helping Hands Food Bank and the Fruit and Veggie Rx program offered through United General District 304.
  • Burlington School District’s Gear Up program to promote outdoor activity via the Trek for Treasure health and wellness event. The Gear Up  program helps students prepare for college and gain access to financial aid.
  • Skagit First Step a 24/7 emergency temporary homeless center which will include 45 individual Pallet Shelter Cabins and provide 24/7 onsite management and overnight security.
  • A community shower project which brings mobile shower services to those who are homeless. This simple service can restore individual dignity and self-worth and provide opportunities for human connection and referrals to other services.   

Q: Which agency or organization do you represent on the Trust?

A: I represent PeaceHealth United General Medical Center as a working member of the Population Health Trust. As part of PeaceHealth’s Mission and Values, we engage in community collaboration to promote personal and community health and just and equitable distribution of health care resources.

Q: What have you/your agency been up to during COVID?

A: PeaceHealth has been doing what we do best – caring for our community of caregivers, patients and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout 2020 and today, we continue to provide comprehensive health care services and supportive communications that advise, protect and inform our community. We strive to provide patients with exceptional care and the information they need to help them make the best health care decisions for themselves and their families.

In addition to providing care, our caregivers (employees) volunteered with Skagit County Public Health to support their COVID-19 test site and we gathered food for the Helping Hands Food Bank and Northwest Youth Services. Like many, we flexed and adapted to meet needs during this past year which include supporting ongoing community health through access to COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.   

Q: Why is the Population Health Trust important?

A: It’s a tenant of PeaceHealth’s Values to support involvement, cooperation, and creativity of all who work together to promote community health. The Population Health Trust is an important group that brings together a broad spectrum of stakeholders to gain a better understanding of our community’s state of health and well-being. These representatives have a deep understanding of the issues affecting our area and a unified strategy and approach to proactively address community needs. This collaborative approach strengthens integration of health services, promotes well-being and helps support equitable communities across Skagit County.  As a representative of PeaceHealth, I am truly proud to partner with the Trust and others who are committed to building a healthier and stronger Skagit.

For more information about the Population Health Trust, go to: https://www.skagitcounty.net/Departments/PHTAC/about.htm.

See you next week!