Get Healthy Idaho Community: WICHC in Elmore County
In late 2020, the Western Idaho Community Health Collaborative (WICHC) in partnership with Elmore County Health Coalition (ECHC), was selected as the first Get Healthy Idaho funded community.
This four-year initiative will bring intentional community led investments to Elmore County to create conditions that allow for optimal health and resiliency.
The most vulnerable members of Elmore County face persistent mental and behavioral health challenges, along with chronic disease outcomes and risk factors, including diabetes and food insecurity.
Recent community health assessment findings from the county revealed residents are concerned with increased stress and isolation and are struggling with poverty, inadequate housing, and low educational attainment. While 41 percent of Elmore County is considered ALICE (Access Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), nearly 55 percent of children in the county live below the Federal Poverty Level. These and other challenges have contributed to higher than average rates of suicide and chronic diseases in the county.
WICHC's community focused strategy includes three phases:
1. Qualitative Community Assessment (Jan-May 2021): Early within this phase, a Community Action Team convened to plan and implement their community assessment strategy, expand partnerships and build bridges that connect representatives from marginalized groups, including veterans and Hispanic/Latino residents. Focus groups, one-on-one interviews and online surveys have all been used to gain an in-depth understanding of the key drivers to persistent health challenges along with potential solutions. The assessment found an increased need for mental and behavioral health services, physical activity and outdoor amenities and local health care.
2. Action Plan Development (Summer 2021): The community assessment guided the collaborative in their development of an action plan with four focus area:
Increase Community Health Workers (CHWs) and pilot Community Health EMS (CHEMS)
Coordinate and connect community programs
Improve Cultural Competency
3. Implementation (Fall 2021-2024): The final three years of the initiative are devoted to implementation of action plan strategies as well as ensuring sustainability of these resources for years to come. Some of the documents developed during this phase are linked below. Implementation activities will:
Support and Connect Community Health Workers
Pilot Community Health EMS for Behavioral Health Support
Develop a mobility consortium for active transportation
Increase access to open space and trails
Community engagement and collaboration are central to all phases and will lead the work throughout the initiative. Evaluation of the process and outcomes will also be woven throughout the initiative. Lessons learned from this opportunity will be applied and shared across WICHC communities and with any future Get Healthy Idaho communities
Previous Collaborative Work in Elmore County
Extensive groundwork has already been laid in the county, setting the stage for this next and important round of health investments. Recent policy and environmental changes to promote health in Elmore County include efforts to increase physical activity in early childhood settings, schools, and parks; hosting walkability workshops; including health recommendations in Mountain Home’s Comprehensive Plan; installing tobacco-free signage; expanding food access and a food pantry in Mountain Home School District; and expanding behavioral health services.
Questions about Get Healthy Idaho can be directed to: GetHealthyIdaho@dhw.idaho.gov