For Your Health: Thank you for the warm welcome

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Robin Fenn

I truly appreciate being warmly welcomed by so many of you since joining the Verdant Health Commission as superintendent in January. It’s both my goal and our organization’s mission to improve the health and well-being of our residents, and we’re doing that work and sharing updates with the community through many different strategies. I hope you recently received The Canopy newsletter, mailed to residences twice a year, with news from Verdant. I also plan to use this column space in the future to highlight the health needs we’ve identified and what Verdant is doing to address those needs. For this first column, it makes sense to take a step back and look at our history.

For nearly 50 years, Public Hospital District No. 2, Snohomish County and its commissioners governed and managed the local community hospital, then called Stevens Hospital. When the elected Board of Commissioners reached an agreement with Swedish Health Services in September of 2010 to operate the hospital, the Board shifted the hospital district’s focus to prevention and wellness and created the Verdant Health Commission. While the Verdant Health Commission does not oversee the daily operations of the hospital, it maintains ownership of the building now known as Swedish Edmonds. The fundamentals of the hospital district have not changed: we still have a board of elected commissioners; still serve the communities of Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Woodway, and portions of Bothell and unincorporated Snohomish County; and we still focus on supporting health – just with a different lens.

The Verdant Health Commission maintains a strong financial position with revenues of $14.3 million and expenditures of almost $11 million in 2016. As one of the three public hospital districts in Snohomish County, we had the lowest Maintenance and Operations tax levy rate in 2016: $0.091 per $1,000 assessed value compared to more than $0.30 per $1,000 assessed value for the other public hospital districts in our county. We are committed to taking care of our outstanding hospital obligations while investing in the future health of our community.

Our mission is to improve the health and well-being of the South Snohomish County community. We strive to meet that goal through collaborating and funding local organizations to bring both long- and short-term programs to residents that will make a lasting impact on the community’s health. While we have a diverse portfolio of program investments, there are three priority areas which we are aiming to address: access to care (both dental and physical health), childhood obesity, and behavioral health.

In addition to funding local health and wellness-related programs, the Verdant Health Commission opened the Verdant Community Wellness Center in Lynnwood in 2015. Here we serve our residents by hosting free or low-cost classes, workshops, speakers, and meetings that support the well-being of our community. We also have a North Sound 2-1-1 Community Resource Advocate who is available to meet one-on-one with community members who need information and referrals to basic need programs, in addition to housing the staff of Verdant. If you haven’t attended a class yet, please take a look at our calendar online and join us soon!

In the coming months, I’ll share more about our priority areas and the work we are doing. In the meantime, for more information about our upcoming classes, the programs we fund, our funding application process, or any of the many other aspects of the Verdant Health Commission, please visit verdanthealth.org or call us at 425-582-8600.

— By Robin Fenn, Ph.D., LICSW, Superintendent, Verdant Health Commission

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