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Meeting Students Where They Are At

Olympic Community of Health (OCH) and Peninsula College have hit a stride in collaborative efforts to better support student health needs. Like so many places, the Olympic region faces a series of complicated health issues. Trying to address these on our own, with limited resources, time, funding, and skills, often feels like paddling against the current. To make a lasting impact, we need a unified, collective approach, working together with our neighbors to paddle in the same direction, co-creating a healthier Olympic region for everyone to live and thrive.

OCH has been working with Peninsula College to raise awareness of local health services and build pathways for students to easily get connected with health resources. In both February and May of 2023, OCH collaborated with Peninsula College to bring together regional partners to discuss ways to strengthen wraparound services. Participants discussed possible solutions and brainstormed immediate action items.

Creative ideas that came from the group discussion:

Since the first convening, regional partners have maximized collaborative energy and have taken action to implement solutions. Some recent successful partnerships include:

  • Serenity House is now on site and have had a full schedule since establishing outreach on campus

  • The REAL team provided a presentation to Peninsula College staff to educate on services they provide

  • North Olympic Healthcare Network is on campus once a week to offer services to students

  • Clallam Transit representatives have established a presence on campus to share about their services

  • Partnership in the works to bring Sequim Food Bank on campus in the near future

  • Partnership in the works to bring Olympic Personal Growth in the near future

“Thanks to this partnership, my team now has a greater knowledge of what the different agencies offer, and it has enabled us to brainstorm and quickly come up with solutions for our students. Even when our partners aren’t on campus, we now feel more like we are referring our students to a person rather than an agency. We are all so grateful to have them in our building!” – Brian Kneidl, Associate Dean, Workforce Programs

Additionally, Peninsula College will have a staff person soon who will serve in a community navigator role. All these steps work toward prioritizing student health and filling gaps in the healthcare system. By meeting people where they are at, we are able to foster a region of healthy people, thriving communities.

"I am so grateful to OCH for convening the region's resource providers. Every local organization has stepped up to support our at-risk students. We are collaborating based on the idea that many of our students are their clients. The better we can support our students, the greater likelihood they will graduate and go on to prosperity. We're going to expand next to serve our Forks and Port Townsend campuses!" – Suzy Ames, President of Peninsula College

Peninsula College brings so many strengths to the OCH network. This partnership brings to life a key recommendation that came out of OCH’s 2022 Workforce Report: “Create partnerships with local educational institutions.” Healthy students are more likely to complete their educational journey and potentially join the health-serving workforce. OCH is thrilled with the momentum and collaborative spirit happening in partnership with Peninsula College. OCH looks forward to continuing to support and strengthen wraparound services by facilitating similar conversations at the Peninsula College campuses in Forks and Port Townsend.

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