Check Out "Born to Learn" at!

If you were not able to catch “Born to Learn” on KSPS on July 30, not to worry – you can stream it on!

“Born to Learn” takes a look at the fascinating links between childhood experiences and brain development.  Interviews with leading researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Science and the Chicago Medical School give insights into infant brain development, explaining the profound effects that seemingly simple interactions – for example, holding a newborn’s hand – have on baby’s developing brain.  This type of positive interaction sets the stage for pre-school and kindergarten readiness, and its absence can create daunting obstacles to learning for children throughout their schooling.  Negative experiences and neglect contribute to what researchers call “toxic stress” that negatively affects brain development, making it difficult for children to learn in school down the road.  In fact, it is precisely this research that led EHF to start investing in the prevention and mitigation of adverse childhood experiences in 2012.

EHF was able to support this project through our Responsive Grant Cycle in 2014, and we are so excited to be able to share the finished documentary!

Housing Is Healthcare

The intersection between housing and healthcare is a topic that we at EHF have been thinking about a lot lately.  The correlation between experiencing homelessness and poor health outcomes is almost commonsense, and yet the housing and healthcare sectors remain largely independent of one another.  To us, this indicates an opportunity for transformational change, and we are not the only ones talking about it.

This June article from our friends at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation makes a compelling case for improving integration between the health and housing sectors.  Data gathered by Seattle housing nonprofit Building Changes indicates that families who stay in supportive housing for at least 12 months experience significant improvements in rates of substance abuse, healthcare access, family reunification for those in the child welfare system, and dental access and care, among other areas. 

Our favorite quote from the article sums up their perspective perfectly:

The truth is that housing and health care are may be siloed in how services are provided, but they are inextricably linked in the eyes and experiences of the people we serve.

We could not agree more.  If we are going to move the needle on health, we must address social determinants, such as housing, education, and economic status.  As the article states, “the opportunities to integrate and improve the delivery of both housing and health services to families recovering from homelessness have the potential to be transformational.”

This is precisely why our subsidiary, Better Health Together, is working together with community partners such as Volunteers of America and the City of Spokane on the Health, Housing, and Homelessness (H3) program, to provide supportive housing to medically vulnerable homeless individuals frequenting Spokane County emergency departments.  Take a look at Kristen’s page for a couple of slides she presented at Governor Inslee’s Results Washington panel in April for more information on H3.

Download the full PDF of the Gates Foundation article here:

Highlights from the 2015 White House Conference on Aging

President Obama delivers remarks at the White House Conference on Aging.  July 13, 2015.  Courtesy of the White House YouTube channel.

In case you missed yesterday’s Boomer U article in the Spokesman Review, it gave a great overview of the discussion at the 2015 White House Conference on Aging in Washington DC last week.  As the article explains, our partners at Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington (ALTCEW) came together with Area Agencies on Aging from across the state to generate recommendations for the conference, which took place last Monday, July 13.  This conference, which has occurred every 10 years since the 1960s, has had a key role in shaping U.S. policy on aging for the past 50 years.  Priorities presented at this year’s conference included ensuring retirement security, providing long-term services and supports, supporting healthy aging, and protecting elders from abuse and neglect.  According to ALTCEW executive director Lynn Kimball, while these priorities were consistent with the Washington state recommendations, “it is really up to each state and community to prioritize what needs to happen for healthy aging to occur.”  We could not agree more, which is why we are working with partners like ALTCEW through our Rural Aging Services Initiative to help seniors gain access to needed supports that allow them to live full meaningful lives with independence and dignity in their homes and communities of choice.  One of our favorite quotes from the article came from Washington State Council on Aging member Phillip Lemley:

The biggest thing that caught my ear was that we must change the prospect of aging from fear to optimism.

Check out the full article here, or download below.

As part of our Rural Aging Services Initiative, we are currently working with ALTCEW to expand supports for caregivers in Whitman County.  Stay tuned for more on this partnership as we work together to better serve rural seniors in our region.

How we are partnering with Providence and WSU to grow physician supply

The Spokane Teaching Health Consortium is already achieving big results in growing the pipeline of primary care providers in Eastern Washington, and this document we produced with the other two consortium partners, Providence Health Care and Washington State University Spokane, aims to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this work.  You can find the FAQs on the STHC website, or download the PDF below:

Curious about our Obesity Prevention initiative?

We have been working with school districts in our community to move the needle on childhood obesity since 2011.  In the past four years, we have been able to expand our partnerships to include nine school districts throughout our region, including our most recent collaboration with Spokane Public Schools.  This partnership represents our first attempts to take this initiative to scale in an urban setting, and we are hoping to replicate the incredible results we have seen with our first partner districts.  With our partners, we work collaboratively to implement the multi-pronged systems and policy change that result in measurable declines in obesity.  Check out our results from the first two intervention school districts in the graph below:

One anchor strategy in this multi-pronged approach is working with school nutrition services to convert to a healthy, wholesome, scratch-cooking model.  Replacing processed chicken nuggets with scratch-cooked herb baked chicken makes it easy for students to make the healthy choice, and financial analysis shows that this change actually increases revenue after just two years, making this a financially sustainable model.

In addition to transforming school kitchens, these partnerships also involve working with teachers and school administration to implement healthier school policies throughout the building.  We support these efforts by deploying a district Wellness Coordinator, who helps teachers incorporate healthy classroom practices, such as active brain breaks and healthy snacks, into their daily activities.  Among other things, the Wellness Coordinator provides opportunities for after school physical activities, and supports professional development opportunities for physical education teachers.

Take a look at the documents below if you want to learn more: