Clatsop County explores how where you live effects health


By Sue Cody

“Where we live effects our health and well-being,” says Julia Hesse, health promotion specialist with the Clatsop County Health Department.

“Where you live, work, play and breathe are really important,” she says.

Looking at Clatsop County as a whole and learning how those factors influence our physical, mental and social health, has led to the organization of a Place Matters Conference to be held June 4 at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds. The theme is “We can build and shape our own community.” The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Larry Wallack, an epidemiologist, says, “Your Zip Code may be more important to your health than your genetic code.” He says communities that do not have strong access to public schools, parks, libraries, public goods, affordable healthy food are having their health put at risk.

“We want to assess how health and well-being looks in our community,” says Kayla Warner, SNAP Education program assistant for OSU Extension Service. “What fuels or supports health? And what are the barriers to health?”

How Clatsop Place Matters came about

Four people from the Clatsop County Health Department attended an Oregon Place Matters Conference in Portland. It focused on the drivers of chronic disease and health care costs and how to reduce obesity, tobacco and alcohol use, poor nutrition and lack of exercise.

“We were so inspired by the speakers, the concepts and workshops that we wanted to create that here,” Hesse says.

Oregon State University, Clatsop County Public Health, Columbia Memorial Hospital and Providence Seaside Hospital stepped up to sponsor the event. CMH and Providence are providing free snacks and lunch for the event.

The Conference

Place Matters is for everyone in the community, says Warner. We can learn tools and procedures to reduce barriers and network with others. There are many avenues that overlap, and we can learn what it looks like to work together, share data, and move forward with that momentum.

This first Place Matters in Clatsop County may appeal more to professionals in health, housing, education and youth programs that are working toward well-being.

Keynote speaker is Debra Furr-Holden, an epidemiologist, who works with community stakeholders and municipal leaders to provide health equity. Everyone deserves access to healthy foods, exercise and health care.

Ari Wagner, Director of Organizational Development, helped Columbia Pacific CCO and their community partners in Clatsop County to develop a five-year community health improvement plan for 2020-2024 which will be completed at the end of June. Ari will speak on community health improvement plans and share data on obesity, disease and health specific to Clatsop County.

Panelists include

  • Liana Haywood, with OHSU Moore Institute for Nutrition & Wellness
  • Michelle Jenck, wellness, health centers, counseling, Tillamook County     
  • Melissa Joy Brewster, Columbia Pacific CCO pharmacy director, reducing harm from substance use
  • Julia Hesse, health promotion specialist with Clatsop County Public Health

Hesse says, “When we as individuals come together as a community, we have the power to make changes and shape the community the way we want. We don’t have to be at the mercy of people pushing food, cigarettes, alcohol and cannabis on us. We can choose to create a healthy community.”

Clatsop County Place Matters Conference