The Snohomish Health District’s mission is to spearhead efforts to protect, promote and advance the collective health of our community. It will continue to do this by focusing on activities that are grounded in a set of foundational public health services, which include:
- Communicable Diseases & Notifiable Conditions
- Chronic Diseases & Injuries
- Environmental Health
- Maternal, Child & Family Health
- Vital Records
- Ongoing, Critical Public Health Issues
- Access to Medical, Dental & Mental Health Care
- Build a Sustainable Organization
Virtual Blood Drive
Don’t forget, our virtual blood drive with Bloodworks Northwest goes through the month of December. Appointments book a few weeks in advance, so book your appointment now!
Appointment sign up link: schedule.bloodworksnw.org. Be sure to tell them you’re with SHD! The closest donation location to the SHD office is at 2703 Oakes Ave, Everett. But there are also locations in Lynnwood, North Seattle, and Seattle. Find the location nearest to you.
By now, you’ve probably realized that Dr. Spitters has announced his retirement at the end of June next year. We have been fortunate to have his leadership during throughout his 24 years here at the District, but especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic. His calm demeaner and steady scientific approach have been instrumental in maintaining one of the most successful responses in the state. He will truly be missed.
Next week is our quarterly All-Staff and the proposed 2022 budget will be discussed in detail, the District is in a good financial position. For several years, the District has relied on per-capita contributions from the cities to sustain the budget. At the same time, the public health system has worked to secure funding for Foundational Public Health Services (FPHS). Beginning with the 2021 Legislative session, a significant increase in funding for these activities have been included in the state budget, as a result, the District is not request financial support from the cities. This honors our original request for help until FPHS dollars were realized and acknowledges that cities continue to manage economic impacts from COVID-19. We are very thankful for their years of support and look forward to continuing the vital relationships that have been fostered along the way.
Lastly, I want to close with thanking all of you for your hard work through this pandemic. We should all be proud of the service we provide and all of our efforts to continually adapt and improve how those services are delivered. Take care.
The SHD School Inspection Team has been back at work, catching up with our routine health and safety inspections that took a pause in 2020. We inspect every school, public and private, in the county every two years. During this walk-through we do a lot of checks including lighting, chemical safety, playgrounds, vocational shops, and ventilation. One positive outcome from COVID is that the schools have significantly better ventilation now versus the last inspections in 2019.
- Cedarcrest Middle (17 classrooms with high CO2 levels in 2019 to 0 in 2021)
- Alderwood Middle (6 to 0)
- Cascade High (19 to 6)
- Cathcart Elementary (4 to 0)
- Challenger Elementary (4 to 0)
- Crystal Springs Elementary (2 to 0)
- Discovery Elementary (3 to 0)
- Dutch Hill Elementary (8 to 0)
- Eisenhower Middle (3 to 0)
In addition to the amazing (astronomical, really!) amount of COVID and vaccine data that our Assessment Team has been producing since the beginning of the pandemic, they also continue to support other programs at SHD and in the community. Currently, they are working with our Healthy Communities Team to revamp and update the opioid data coming out of our Overdose to Action (OD2A) grant. The pandemic has had an impact on opioid misuse in the county, and we have seen an increase in both overdose events and opioid-related deaths. Data collected helps county partners shape and target more effective interventions, guide responsible use of resources, and support additional funding opportunities. Our newest member of the Assessment Team, Sara Lidstrom, has taken the lead in exploring how we can continue to improve and utilize opioid-related data.
In other Prevention Services news, the Maternal Child Health Program was recently awarded a grant that will help us improve lead exposure surveillance and response in our community. This program will provide the opportunity for collaboration between MCH, Environmental Health, and the Assessment Team. Lindee Tolleffsen, Melinda Nann, Megan Bertolacci, and Miyuki Blatt will be working together to achieve goals for Snohomish County.
Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response
Maintaining Situational Awareness
Situational awareness is simply being aware of your surroundings. All of us practice some form of situational awareness in our daily lives – we look both ways before we cross the street, we park our cars in the well-lit parking lot instead of the dark one, and we check the weather before we leave the house.
How to Maintain Situational Awareness at Work
Maintaining situational awareness at work is important to protect our safety and that of our co-workers, but it is also important to ensure that we are doing our best work. How does our work correlate to the rest of the department? Is there an opportunity for collaboration? Is someone else doing the same work?
To Maintain Situational Awareness While at Work You Can Do the Following:
- Inform your supervisor of your location. This is important for safety in the event there is an emergency at the Health District, in certain parts of the county, or even in our own homes. If you are a supervisor, make sure you know where your staff are and when to check in on them.
- Check the weather regularly. If you work in the field, you should keep an eye on weather conditions at your field site as well as at the district. If you do not work in the field, it’s still a good idea to know what the weather is like – maybe there is a concern on your route home.
- How does your work relate to or impact someone else’s work? Many times, what you are working on and know can make a big impact in someone else’s work. There are pretty clear examples of this in our COVID response. For example, testing site info needs to be communicated to the call center and contact tracers. There are many examples in our non-COVID work as well. While you are working, think about who else might need to have the information that you have.
Maintaining Situational Awareness in an Emergency Response
When the Health District is in an active response for an emergency, good situational awareness is crucial to allow staff to make critical decisions. The types of information needed for appropriate situational awareness can vary greatly depending on the emergency. They could include current and future weather, disease case counts and trends, hospital capacity, as well as what our partners are doing in response.
The Health District’s COVID response maintains regular situational awareness by tracking current cases, case trends, localized outbreaks, number of individuals tested, number of individuals vaccinated, protests and security, state and federal case trends, and state and federal mandates (such as masking and vaccination). The COVID response publishes regular situation reports (Sitreps) on the intranet.
Safety Committee: Safety Tips
Prepare Your Car for Winter
In addition to annual maintenance, here are some tips to winterize your car:
- Test your battery. Battery power drops as the temperature drops.
- Make sure the cooling system is in good working order.
- Have winter tires with a deeper, more flexible tread put on your car.
- If using all-season tires, check the tread on your tires and replace if less than 2/32 of an inch.
- Check the tire pressure. Tire pressure drops as the temperature drops.
- Check your wiper blades and replace if needed.
- Add wiper fluid rated for -30 degrees.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze.
Remember to keep your car’s emergency preparedness kit fully stocked, too.
Before You Start Out
- Clean your car’s external camera lenses and side view mirrors so you’ll be able to see what’s around you.
- Remove dirt, ice, and snow from sensors to allow the assistive-driving features like automatic emergency braking to work.
- In frigid weather, you may want to warm up the car before you drive it. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, never leave a vehicle running in your garage – even with the garage door up.
- If the forecast looks iffy, wait out the storm if possible. If you must travel, share your travel plans and route with someone before you leave.
How to Avoid a Crash
AAA offers the following driving tips:
- Avoid using cruise control in wintry conditions.
- Steer in the direction of a skid, so when your wheels regain traction you don’t have to overcorrect to stay in your lane.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly.
- Increase following distance to 8 to 10 seconds.
- If possible, don't stop when going uphill.
If visibility is severely limited due to a whiteout, pull off the road to a safe place and do not drive until conditions improve. Avoid pulling off onto the shoulder unless it is an absolute emergency. Limited visibility means other vehicles can’t see yours on the shoulder.
Know Your Car’s Capabilities
My Car Does What? is a national campaign to help educate drivers about the safety features built into vehicles. Search for your car and find out what safety features are already built in.
Traction control is now standard on most new vehicles. This function helps your vehicle gain traction on snowy, icy or wet surfaces, particularly when accelerating from a stopped or slowed position, or when trying to make it up a slippery hill.
Anti-lock braking system (ABS) helps you steer in emergencies by restoring traction to your tires and is standard on most new vehicles as well. ABS may vibrate or pulse when engaged. This is normal. Continue to press and hold pressure to the brake pedal.
Remember, you are your car's best safety feature. Take precautions to ensure you arrive safely at your destination. If you become stranded in an unfamiliar area, do not leave your car. Light flares in front and behind the car and make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow, mud, or objects.
Health Literacy Corner
Nearly 40% of American adults have low levels of health literacy, but why? Why do so many people struggle with health literacy?
There are a myriad of factors which contribute to Americans’ generally low level of health literacy. An individual’s ability to understand English and to converse with health care providers are two of the main contributing factors to limited health literacy levels. Gender, race, and cultural differences also contribute to the high prevalence of low health literacy. These barriers to health literacy are easily visible to the naked public health eye.
One important barrier to health literacy which is often under-examined is the amount of time a physician dedicates to their patient. This includes how much time providers leave for patient questions, how involved a patient is in decisions related to their health, and how often a physician checks for patient understanding. Time spent checking patient understanding isn’t just an important consideration for healthcare providers, but public health professionals, as well.
When working with the public, how often do you check for their understanding? When providing health education, simple questions such as “When you talk about this with your family, what will you say?” can ensure our community members are not being left behind.
For more questions which may surface community member health literacy levels, please see the following research publication: Brief questions to identify patients with inadequate health literacy - PubMed (nih.gov)
Remember to take the Advancing Health Literacy Survey found here. Your responses really make a difference!
Did you know that every Wednesday the Communications Team publishes health-focused wallpaper art on our social media platforms? These can be saved to your phone and used as a background for your lock screen, etc. You can see the whole album of them for download on our Facebook page here.
Have a request to promote content on social media?
If you have any social media content you would like us to promote on social media, let us know at email@example.com. We have previously promoted opioid and suicide prevention as well as SIDS Awareness Month campaigns. The Communication Team is always eager to help you promote the latest health information.
Are you following SHD?
Take a minute to hit like and follow on our social channels! You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok. This is a great way to keep up on the latest info on all things public health.
The following new employees have joined the Snohomish Health District team. Please give them a warm welcome!
George is a DIS with the STD/HIV program.
Linda is the new Accounting Supervisor.
Upcoming Events and Reminders
SHD and Snohomish County PDS meeting 12/9
Regular Board of Health Meeting 12/14
Submit Timesheet 12/15