Bringing a Health Lens to Multiple Sectors
Growing Multi-Sector Health Providers
Willamette Partnership is working with community leaders to connect the health care industry with other sectors that haven’t been traditionally engaged in public health to improve outcomes for both public health and the environment. We offer tools and training for cities, water utilities, environmental groups, and others to communicate the health benefits they provide through their work. Learn more by exploring below.
The Green Infrastructure & Health Guide
Chronic conditions, like heart disease and depression, are the most prevalent health issues in the United States, Canada, and other nations, and preventing them is the public health challenge of our time. Green infrastructure (think: parks, tree-lined streets, greenways, etc.) can be part of the solution. Willamette Partnership and the Oregon Public Health Institute present a new, national resource on how cities can incorporate green infrastructure to improve public health.
Research continues to show that our zip codes may determine more about our health than our genetics.
Public health officials refer to the conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work, and age as “social determinants of health” (see graphic to the left). Characteristics like our housing, education, and water.
Health organizations are increasingly looking upstream to these social determinants of health to create community wellness, prevent chronic disease, and increase health care effectiveness.
CITIES & WATER UTILITIES
Willamette Partnership is helping cities measure the health benefits of their green infrastructure investments, form partnerships with hospital systems, and incorporate health into the business case for why green infrastructure is so important. We can do the same for water utilities.
We’ve begun helping cities look at more holistic, nature-based approaches to how their infrastructure investments can improve public health and community livability by increasing access to parks, trails, and trees. We provided a snapshot of those opportunities in the following reports:
- Seattle Health & Green Infrastructure Opportunities Analysis (full report)
- Seattle Health & Green Infrastructure Opportunities Analysis (2-pager)
- Portland Health & Green Infrastructure Opportunities Assessment (2-pager)
- Los Angeles Health & Green Infrastructure Opportunities Assessment (2-pager)
- Tucson Health & Green Infrastructure Opportunities Assessment (2-pager)
- Vancouver Health & Green Infrastructure Opportunities Assessment (2-pager)
Water utilities dealing with drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater have public health in their missions. In the mid-19th century, public sanitation improvements increased by bringing clean water to people’s homes and reducing communicable disease, such as cholera. Now, chronic conditions (such as heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, diabetes, and depression) are the in the United States, Canada, and other nations, and preventing them is the public health challenge of our time. Green infrastructure can be part of the solution.
OUTDOOR ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATORS
Engaging students in outdoor environmental education goes beyond environmental stewardship. When kids can get outside for 20 minutes a day in a safe place outdoors, they demonstrate better attention performance in the classroom. By intentionally integrating a health focus into curricula and program design, outdoor education providers can bring these health benefits to students and help them develop the habits, perspectives, and skills that will allow them to make the connection between health and the outdoors in their independent lives. And, if outdoor education providers can measure and communicate these health benefits to health care organizations, they may be eligible to receive community health care dollars.
Willamette Partnership and the Oregon Public Health Institute wrote, “Guideline for Incorporating Health in Outdoor Education” to shape thinking about opportunities to integrate health in outdoor education. This guideline is useful to school administrators who are considering how much time to allocate to outdoor education; capital improvements to bring green space into schools; the capacities and training their educators need to provide public health; and, other decisions related to public health and outdoor education.
If time in nature creates health, then we have to be thinking about how watershed groups, soil and water conservation districts, land trusts, and other conservation organizations can do their work to advance health equity. We are helping conservation organizations connect to their local hospitals to think about how their work can produce clean water, clean air, and healthy natural places to play.
Watch a recording of the Network of Oregon Watershed Councils‘ webinar on exploring partnerships with the human health sector to accomplish conservation education, featuring Willamette Partnership Executive Director, Bobby Cochran, by registering here.
Get in touch about connecting your work to public health.
Have questions about articulating the public health outcomes of your work?
Contact Emily Henke, Health & Outdoors Project Manager with Oregon Public Health Institute