Imperial County has recently undergone a ‘sea-change’ in term of its health collaboration — the community has banded together to make systemic changes to improve the health and well-being of residents. While significant progress has been made, many people continue to suffer from poor air quality and other harmful living conditions.
One of the most severe health issues impacting the area is asthma, as children in Imperial County are nearly two times more likely to be hospitalized due to asthma than children throughout the rest of California. Consequently, Imperial County has frequently topped the charts for California’s highest asthma related hospitalization and emergency department visit rates.
Uniting Imperial County to Improve Health
Partners in Imperial County are developing a comprehensive effort to reduce asthma hospitalization through utilization of the Accountable Communities for Health (ACH) model.
The ACH builds on many years of collaboration that have strengthened in the last five years. Despite growing collaboration, many efforts still operate independently from one another. The ACH model brings together clinical providers with the public health department, social service agencies, nonprofit organizations, and others in a collective effort to build a more sustainable and coordinated alliance for a healthier county.
- California Health & Wellness Health Plan
- Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo, Inc.
- Comite Civico Del Valle, Inc.
- Community Health Improvement Partnership (CHIP)
- El Centro Regional Medical Center
- Imperial County Local Health Authority Commission
- Community Health Improvement Partnership Steering Council
Transforming Imperial County Health Through Partnerships
With leadership from the Local Health Authority Commission and the Imperial County Public Health Department acting as the backbone, the ACH convenes multiple sectors to implement strategies that will help to build healthier environments and address the underlying factors that affect asthma management.
For years, local organizations conducting in-home asthma education and environmental trigger remediation have sought out cyclical, grant-based funding to support their work. The ACH is working with these partners to strengthen the evidence base of their programs, improve their communication and linkage to the clinical sector, and measure a return on their efforts that will help to justify their great need in the community. This is just one example of how the Imperial County ACH is strengthening and better aligning solutions to reduce asthma hospitalizations and missed school attendance.
A NETWORK OF SOLUTIONS
Imperial County is bringing together a series of strategies that connect and align to address issues leading to difficulties managing asthma. A few of the elements include:
- Linking children who visit emergency rooms for asthma with their primary care doctors to provide ongoing treatment to prevent asthma attacks
- Implementing an Interdisciplinary Asthma Care Team through the adoption of a family-centered, patient-tailored, and evidence-based model that incorporates social determinants of health and an environmental focus
- Promoting home-based asthma education where community-based peer educators provide helpful information on disease management and asthma trigger remediation
- Working with schools to determine ways to improve asthma management in the education sector
- Aligning asthma metrics and outcomes as benchmarks for existing partnerships and efforts, such as the Salton Sea restoration project, to improve the physical environment
This type of comprehensive, multi-sector initiative requires ongoing and sustainable resources to make the kind of investments that will pay off over the long term. Consequently, Imperial County leaders established a local Wellness Fund that grants support through funding and other investments for designated community priorities, including asthma. Imperial County leaders are using this collective framework to make a significant impact on the entire community.
To learn more and get involved with Imperial County Accountable Communities for Health, contact Denise Andrade, MPA, Health Promotion Manager at DeniseAndrade@co.imperial.ca.us or (442) 265-1479.
To learn more about CACHI and the ACH model across California, please contact Barbara Masters at CACHImgr@communitypartners.org or visit www.CACHI.org.