Healthy Indoors Magazine - USA Edition

HI March 2019

Healthy Indoors Magazine

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18 | March 2019 A collaborative healthy homes pilot in Ta- coma-Pierce County, Washington yield- ed some promising outcomes for asth- ma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. An evalua- tion of participants in the Pierce County Healthy Homes (PCHH) income-based weatherization program showed positive health benefits. From the initial 53 households and 78 clients, 65% of cli- ents had improved asthma control and 70% reported an improvement in quality of life. In 2015, the Washington State Legislature provided ad- ditional state funds to expand the Matchmaker Low Income Weatherization Program and focus on healthy homes inter- ventions. This allowed the Washington State Department of Commerce to create the Weatherization Plus Health (Wx+H) Initiative, designed to integrate weatherization, health, and social services so that all Washington state low-income housing is energy efficient, safe, healthy and durable. PCHH was one of eight local weatherization part- nerships to pilot integration approaches in 2016 and 2017. The inability to assist families with costly environmental health concerns related to their home's structure has been a long-time frustration of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health De- partment's asthma program. Similarly, Pierce County Human Services' (PCHS) weatherization staff experienced the frustra- tion of being unable to assist with identified health needs. This pilot project built upon the known successes and challenges of each program. An unexpected positive outcome was the morale boost to staff from both agencies as they were able to provide more meaningful action and interventions. How the PCHH Partnership Works The PCHS weatherization program partnered with the Health Department's Clean Air for Kids asthma program to create the PCHH Wx+H partnership. They developed a braided funding approach in which the Health Department's community health workers (CHWs) and PCHS weatheriza- tion auditors defined priorities and roles. Most referrals came from within the PCHS network of clients obtaining weather- ization, energy assistance or early learning services. Other referrals came through the Health Department's healthcare provider referral network. The weatherization auditor con- ducted an initial pre-audit of referred homes. This included: • A walk-through for a healthy home assessment • Information on weatherization services A Collaborative Pilot to Improve Quality of Life for Asthma and COPD Patients By Judy Olsen, Environmental Health Supervisor, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department Larry Zarker, CEO, Building Performance Institute

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