Island County Environmental Health Initiative
The Island County Environmental Initiative is a model for other communities seeking to implement environmental health action plans developed as part of a community-based environmental health assessment process using the Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE EH) methodology. Solutions to identified environmental health issues are developed in partnership with the community to expand environmental health services to address concerns identified by the community assessment process and evaluate environmental health services.
Action plans to address priority environmental health issues, were developed and are actively being implemented. These plans were based on the Essential Public Health Services and Core Competencies of Environmental Health.
The project builds on collaborations that have been developed with state public health agencies, other local health agencies, and academic institutions. The aim of the project is to empower community members to be involved in identifying local environmental health concerns, to seek locally appropriate solutions, and to implement action plans developed in partnership among public health agencies, the community, and elected officials.
Accomplishments to date include the following:
- successful completion of a PACE EH based community environmental health assessment,
- development of community-based action plans for priority environmental health issues,
- implementation of two litter assessments,
- development of a walkability assessment tool,
- development of health information bulletins for a variety of environmental health issues, and
- development of GIS-based assessment tools for many existing environmental health programs.
Barriers to success of the project continue to include the pace at which community groups proceed through an assessment and project implementation process, the need to gain political support for a nontraditional method of addressing environmental health issues, and limited resources.
What Is Next
The PACE EH process has resulted in the development of two action plans now being implemented. We anticipate that the final year of the project will be spent completing the implementation phase, identifying opportunities for sustaining the community environmental health assessment process, and developing models to share with other communities that can contribute to their success in conducting community-based environmental health interventions.
The most significant anticipated outcome of this project will be the development of a PACE EH toolkit that can be used by other communities interested in conducting a community-based environmental health assessment to address locally appropriate environmental health issues.