Island County, Washington(Partner: National Association of County and City Health Officials)
Through ACHIEVE, the Island County Community Health Action Response Team (CHART) developed strategies that target three key areas: elected officials, the healthcare sector, and community organizations. The ACHIEVE coalition will engage elected officials in a new dialogue on how to address physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and tobacco use in the community and will work with them to adopt new policies in these areas. The coalition will work with healthcare providers to develop a system that helps them routinely address physical activity, nutrition, and tobacco prevention with their patients. This will include assessing a patient’s physical activity, nutrition, and tobacco use as part of a written checklist used in all routine office visits; providing regular counseling on the benefits of physical activity, nutrition, and tobacco prevention/cessation; and helping patients access community resources on physical activity. The coalition will facilitate changes in city and county code that foster free-range kids and promote free-range kids through signage and community events. In addition, Island County, serving as a pilot worksite, will institute three policy changes that foster opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating.
Island County, a small, rural county in Washington, consists of two main populated islands, Whidbey and Camano, and seven smaller islands located in Puget Sound approximately 30 miles north of Seattle and 50 miles from the Canadian border.
Whidbey Island is made up of three distinct areas: north, central, and south. North Whidbey is the most populous with 39,639 people in the greater Oak Harbor area, which is also home to a naval hospital and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island employing over 7,700 military personnel. Central Whidbey has a population of 8,525 and includes the town of Coupeville, the county seat and historic farming community, and the small, unincorporated town of Greenbank. Most medical services, including a small critical access hospital, are located in town. South Whidbey, made up of the small communities of Freeland and Clinton, and the town of Langley, has a total population of 16,030.
Due to it being geographically isolated from the county seat, Camano Island continues to remain fairly rural. Camano has a population of 15,106 residents. Most educational and medical facilities are located in the nearest town of Stanwood. While close to urban areas, Whidbey and Camano are quite rural in their provision of health services and programs.
Island County has the unique challenge of adapting effective, community-based health programs modeled for urban populations to its relatively small, rural community. A lack of physical exercise and poor nutrition are contributing to the increasing prevalence of obesity and overweight individuals in Island County. Although the county is doing better than the state and nation for most health measures, the area is still not meeting Healthy People 2010 guidelines.