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2018 Letter from the Director

In this Letter from the Director, Betty Bekemeier, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, reflects on 2017 at NWCPHP, and the exciting year ahead.
2018 Letter from the Director

NWCPHP Director Betty Bekemeier

In this Letter from the Director, Betty Bekemeier, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, reflects on 2017 at NWCPHP and the exciting year ahead.

January 19, 2018

The dawn of a new year gives us a chance to consider what lies ahead, absorb the learnings of the past year, and celebrate our partners and what we’ve accomplished together.

2017 was a pivotal year for NWCPHP. Our fast-changing public health environment was set to warp speed with a new administration and a dramatically different landscape for social, health, and environmental programs. We were forced—as a public health community—to articulate our roles, examine our approaches, and advocate for our public health prevention systems better and more actively than ever before.

Uncertainty at the federal level has made it even more important for NWCPHP to work with our public health partners to ensure that they have the evidence and capacity to deliver quality prevention and health promotion services to all our region’s residents no matter where they live. Grappling with urgent public health issues such as opioid abuse, mass shootings, and natural disasters has reinforced our commitment to address the social determinants that underlie a community’s health.

Against this challenging backdrop and in partnership with many of you, NWCPHP is proud of what we accomplished in 2017:

Also in 2017, we completed significant groundwork to advance a major goal for our work in 2018 and beyond—addressing health disparities in the rural communities in our region.

Despite recognition as a global hub for innovation and technology with vibrant urban areas, the Northwest region is largely rural, with the unique health needs of rural communities nationally.

NWCPHP is committed to doing our part to improve health in rural and frontier communities through new initiatives on rural health disparities. You will no doubt be hearing more from us as these projects generate momentum:

  • Solutions in Health Analytics for Rural Equity across the Northwest, or SHARE-NW. This five-year project, funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, will expand the availability, access, and use of health data relevant to rural communities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska. We hope to help support decision makers with information necessary to reduce the health disparities in their communities.
  • Pop-Up Institutes. In 2017 we offered two of these customized in-person training institutes, held at our community partners’ preferred location and time. These high-quality trainings are ideal for our more distant partners who may be held back by the time and costs associated with sending staff to Seattle.
  • Working with Tribes toolkit. We are developing a highly readable and accessible, no-cost online resource to help local health jurisdictions better work and collaborate with the region’s tribes. Our aim is to build on the strengths of tribal health systems to address complex public health issues.

Helping maximize the effectiveness of our prevention systems in the region will continue to be our NWCPHP commitment for 2018 and beyond. I am looking forward to strengthening these partnerships in 2018 as we ensure a path ahead for healthy and equitable communities!

Betty Bekemeier, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN
Director, Northwest Center for Public Health Practice

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