Where is Way to Wellville?


Esther Dyson“The whole point of the Way to Wellville is to help communities apply well-known techniques in sustained initiatives that are accountable, measurable and ultimately fundable,” initiator and investor Esther Dyson said.

The Way to Wellville started as a nationwide competition to choose five communities to spend five years improving the health of their populations.

Clatsop County was one of the chosen five.

In its first year, the Health Initiative Coordinating Council (HICCup) is focusing on forming a strategic council, creating community partnerships, identifying Clatsop County’s health and wellness needs, then building a business plan to support those needs.

The other Wellville Five communities are Lake County, Calif., Niagara Falls, N.Y., Spartanburg, S.C. and Greater Muskegon, Mich. Representatives from each area attended a meeting in Florida, where it was decided that it would no longer be a competition, but a cooperative enterprise where the communities could share ideas and strategies.

“The whole point of The Way to Wellville is to help communities apply well-known techniques in sustained initiatives that are accountable, measurable and ultimately fundable,” initiator and investor Esther Dyson said.

Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) and CareOregon sponsor The Way to Wellville Clatsop County. They offer resources, such as training, communications and staffing.

“Clatsop County had built-in infrastructure through the CCO, so we could implement changes and hire Sydney Van Dusen as coordinator,” said Debbie Morrow, a member of the strategic council.

Among the 14 council members are educators, business people, health care professionals, and others.

“We have a solid cross-section of leaders at the table who are working on identifying goals for our focus areas. The end goal is to connect the people who are doing similar work and promote collaboration to create a healthier society,” Morrow said.

Strategic Council Chairman Jeff Hazen said the council is meeting monthly and creating a business plan from the ground up.

The council refined four focus areas:

• Emotional Health,

• Community Wellness,

• Health Care Access,

• Economic Opportunity.

Within each category, there are numerous sectors to be addressed.

For example, Seaside Heights’ retired Principal Dan Gaffney is leading the Economic Opportunity team. He presented studies to the strategic council about the direct correlation between reading proficiency in the third grade and high school graduation rates. Clatsop County’s high school graduation rate in 2014 was 70 percent and the percentage of children who were fluent in reading by third grade was 69 percent. Those fluent in reading by third grade have more economic opportunities in the future.

In light of that information, the council opted to focus on early childhood education.

Five years won’t be long enough to measure change in graduation rates, but it will get us started, said Gaffney, who is leading the Clatsop Kinder Ready program. Clatsop Kinder Ready is a partnership focused on preparing children for kindergarten and being fluent readers by third grade.

Sample goals to reach by 2020:

• Reduce substance abuse by 50 percent in Clatsop County children (from 33.9 percent in 2014 to 17 percent in 2020.

• Improve mental health of children by reducing childhood trauma.

• Increase the number of quality preschools using the quality rating and improvement system.

• Improve the high school graduation rate of children in Clatsop County (from 70.5 to 90 percent).

• Improve the third-grade reading proficiency (from 68 to 90 percent).

• Increase the community mentoring programs (from 42 participants to 200 participants).

Pay for Prevention

Ensuring patients get the best possible care is a key part of improving a community’s health. The Way to Wellville sponsors are working with local clinics to improve health delivery and offering “pay for performance opportunities. They reward providers who meet the state and federal metrics for ensuring their patients receive needed care.

In 2015, Columbia Pacific CCO allocated $1 million to improve access and clinical quality in their service areas, Tillamook, Columbia and Clatsop counties.

Currently, 88 percent of health care spending goes to medical services. With the pay for performance model of funding, government resources are directed toward social programs that provide positive results. The model taps private funders to cover upfront costs of social programs.

The Way to Wellville provides an opportunity to develop investment processes with the support of HICCup and other interested entities. Supporters help find ways of investing in upstream supports and services that prevent poor health outcomes in the future without taking away from existing resources.

“We need to make a paradigm shift away from archaic social programs that do not address the current issues of this generation and instead make strategic investments into programs that we know work,” Morrow said.

See more reports on local projects, such as Northwest Parenting, Clatsop Community Action Regional Food Bank, early childhood education programs, exercise, events and more on Facebook, http://bit.ly/W2Wfacebook  and our website www.waytowellville.net.

Sue Cody is communications lead for The Way to Wellville Clatsop County. She is the former deputy managing editor of The Daily Astorian.

Originally published on September 29, 2015 in the Daily Astorian, "Guest column: Where is Way to Wellville?" http://bit.ly/1jzQDVW