POCATELLO — The United Way of Southeastern Idaho, an organization committed to improving outcomes for children, families and individuals in need, announced that it has been awarded a four-year, up to $400,000 grant from Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Get Healthy Idaho initiative.
UWSEI will use the funds to establish a collaborative — the Bannock County Health Collaborative — that will create and execute a community action plan to address the root causes of health disparities.
“The Bannock County community knows these issues are present, but so far we have lacked the resources to invest in a community-driven, multi-sector collaboration to solve these problems,” said Dr. Amy Wuest, UWSEI’s community resources director, who will facilitate the collaborative. “Now we will be able to take the first steps to understanding and ultimately improving population-level health outcomes.”
Wuest said that like much of Southeastern Idaho, Bannock County experiences very high rates of poverty, diabetes, disability, obesity and social vulnerability, and this is coupled with low rates of preventative health screenings, low access to mental health and primary health care, and limited education attainment.
“With this grant, we are so excited to be a partner in Get Healthy Idaho’s Building Healthy and Resilient Communities initiative,” said Molly Olson, interim CEO at UWSEI. “This coordinated effort to meet the needs of ALICE families and other individuals affected by health disparities will greatly benefit Bannock County.”
This opportunity is particularly exciting, as it will allow UWSEI to work with diverse partners to develop a comprehensive community action plan, Wuest said, adding that not every segment of the Bannock County community experiences health disparity in the same way. For example, individuals living in specific neighborhoods are more likely to experience housing instability, unreliable transportation and an overall low socioeconomic status. Seniors and families with children younger than 5 also experience poor health outcomes known to be associated with social determinants of health.
UWSEI has already begun partnering with leaders from across Bannock County to build the collaborative. Shin Kue Ryu, assistant professor in Idaho State University’s Department of Political Science, and Monica Mispireta, director of program development at the PocatelloFree Clinic, will help to lead the development of the community action plan.
Community members will also be invited to share their ideas with the team throughout this project and help distribute feedback opportunities.
“We need everyone’s help getting the word out when we start collecting data and soliciting feedback on our community action plan,” said Ginny Hoyle, UWSEI’s community resources manager, who will lead communication strategy for the project. “And it is crucial that we hear from those in our community who are experiencing health disparities so we can pinpoint the core issues and work as a community toward high-level solutions.”