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2021 Regional Convening Summary

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

On November 15, OCH hosted the 2021 Stronger Together Regional Convening at the beautiful Kiana Lodge. Though masked, smiling faces were evident all around as partners from across the Olympic region were reunited at this in-person collaborative.

Tribal welcome

The Suquamish Chief Kitsap Academy Song & Dance group welcomed us with a land acknowledgment and two beautiful songs. Jay Mills from the Suquamish Tribe shared a message about the importance of community and resilience. OCH is incredibly grateful to the Suquamish Tribe for sharing their time, talents, and culture at this event.

Expressing gratitude & setting the stage

Local leaders Jody Moss, Olympic Area Agency on Aging, and Elisia Fernandez, First Step Family Support Center, shared reflections on a more equitable Olympic region. Olympic Area Agency on Aging sets a great example of using an equitable approach to service by providing trauma-informed care trainings for all their staff. First Step Family Support Center described the importance of listening to community needs and responding with partnerships that maximize local strengths to meet those unique needs.

Inventory of local projects

Projects addressing determinants of health are emerging across the Olympic region. There is no standard playbook of how best to improve social conditions in a community. OCH has taken the first steps in creating an inventory of local projects addressing determinants of health. OCH staff, Amy Brandt, gave a tour of the digital inventory of local projects , some insights from the creation process, and ways to engage with this work.

Community-based care coordination video

Through care coordination, we can bring together various organizations, Tribes, and sectors to collaboratively care for the unique needs of a specific individual or community. OCH's newest video features the voices of:

  • Forks Community Hospital

  • West End Outreach Services

  • Bogachiel and Clallam Bay Clinics

  • Peninsula Community Health Services

The video also features Miranda Burger, Program Manager at Olympic Community of Health, as she shares her experience as a new mother in rural Clallam County, navigating complex health care for her son. Miranda shares insights and reflections on the importance of a compassionate approach to care coordination, the examples of care that made a world of difference, and the ways she experienced unnecessary barriers. Learn more about Miranda's story by reading her guest blog.

Community-clinical linkages

Susan Buell shared how the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties has teamed up with St. Michael Medical Center to connect via Epic (an electronic health record system) to facilitate community referrals to prevent and treat chronic disease. Susan walked the group through the development process, sharing both the challenges and successes. She emphasized the importance of connecting the goal with the right skillsets to bring it to life- finding individuals who speak both information technology(IT) and healthcare, ultimately coming up with a solution that fits to the existing workflow. Participants showed strong interest in using the Y's approach as a template to introduce in their own systems. Check out the Y's Tip Sheet: Referral for YMCA Preventative Program Order.

Addressing determinants of health

Stacie Neff and Dr. Kate Weller shared North Olympic Healthcare Network’s approach to addressing determinants of health through implementing a screening worksheet for all patients. Dr. Weller shared how she was shocked by how many patients (who she has been working with for many years) identified they were worried about food, housing, and/or transportation. By creating a simple, easy to understand screening sheet, patients can quickly mark any category that they would like support in. The sheet is then given to a navigator who follows up with connecting the patient with the appropriate services/resources. They created a low-tech solution that is already changing lives for the better by removing barriers to basic needs that ultimately impact health.

Becoming a recovery friendly region

OCH team members Amy Brandt, Celeste Schoenthaler, and Miranda Burger co-presented recent findings regarding stigma of substance use disorder in the Olympic region. The presentation provided both current quantitative data and qualitative information learned from over 200 survey responses, 10 focus groups (3 with community members in recovery for SUD), and 2 key informant interviews.

The data paints the picture of the current state of substance use in the region and the perceived presence of stigma. OCH also provided examples of local successes and opportunities to make change. Download a key takeaway overview sheet here.

If you are interested in learning more about stigma of substance use disorder and ways you can get involved, connect with OCH (

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