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2016 Community Needs Assessment

Affordable dental and preventive medical care top the list of services needed in Whitman County

Whitman County residents are in need of affordable dental care and access to preventive medical care. These are the findings of a recently conducted comprehensive needs assessment survey sponsored by Palouse area health agencies in which more than 1,000 Whitman County residents responded. Surveys were completed online in spring 2015 and had 266 questions about quality of life, economic development, employment, health, housing, food security and use of social services. The Whitman County Health Network and other area agencies commissioned the assessment to better understand the needs of Whitman County residents and can be downloaded here.

The Whitman County Health Network formed in 2014 to identify service gaps and to identify the county’s highest healthcare needs. Members of the Network include Pullman Regional Hospital, Community Action Center, Whitman County Public Health, Whitman Hospital and Medical Center, Palouse Medical, Pullman Family Medicine, Palouse River Counseling, Whitman Medical Group, and WSU Student Health. A Rural Health Network Development Planning grant from the Health and Human Resources Agency received by Pullman Regional Hospital Foundation helped fund the majority of the survey and prompted the establishment of the Whitman County Health Network.

Based on the findings, there are five key areas for improvement identified:

  1. Extreme need for affordable dental care
  2. Transportation to services
  3. Access to nutritious food
  4. Access to preventive care and mental health services
  5. Access to social services for low-income non-Pullman residents

Jeff Guyett, Director of the Pullman Community Action Center, said “The assessment is a great first step in identifying the highest needs in Whitman County and will help prioritize how to address these gaps in services.” Director of Whitman County Public Health Troy Henderson said “We are looking forward to working with the Whitman County Health Network to continue to address these important issues and dedicated to serving all residents of Whitman County.”

Report highlights include:

Thirty-four percent (34%) of Pullman residents and 36% of non-Pullman residents said they were unable to access preventive care (primary care) within the past year. The most common health conditions ranked in households by resident and income are obesity, asthma, and diabetes. Low income, non-Pullman residents ranked their most common health conditions as dental disease, physical disability, and mental health. Ten percent of low income Pullman and 19% of low-income non-Pullman residents reported going hungry in the last year because they were not able to get enough food. Thirty percent (30%) of low-income non-Pullman residents expressed difficulty finding transportation to access services. Services that were difficult to access were cited as affordable dental care across Whitman County, mental health, help with heating/utility bills, and access to nutritious food.

The WSU Social and Economic Sciences Research Center designed, distributed, and collected the data from the survey. In addition, a multitude of organizations took part in the development and implementation of the survey. The support of the following organizations was invaluable and greatly appreciated:

Cost-Sharing Organizations:

  • Pullman Regional Hospital
  • Community Action Center in Pullman
  • Council on Aging and Human Services in Colfax
  • Palouse Alliance for Health Individuals, Families, and Communities
  • Palouse River Counseling
  • Pullman School District
  • Pullman United Way
  • Whitman County Public Health
  • Washington State University Center for Civic Engagement

Other Stakeholder Organizations:

  • Family Promise of the Palouse
  • Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse
  • Whitman Hospital and Medical Center
  • Friends of Hospice
  • Whitman County Library
  • BOOST Collaborative
  • City of Colfax
  • City of Palouse
  • City of Pullman
  • Department of Social and Health Services
  • Neill Public Library, Pullman

To download the entire Health and Social Services Needs in Whitman County 2015 Community Needs Assessment report, click here.