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News and Features
January 2020

 
Recent partnerships reinforce
Community Conversation outcomes

Two ICF partnerships have recently concluded and their findings help reinforce the Idaho Community Foundation Areas of Impact – mental health, family homelessness, educational opportunities and access to services. These four statewide issues provide ICF an opportunity to increase its grantmaking and awareness efforts.

The Rural Health Initiative - Voice of the Community Project, deepened understanding of health care issues and needs in rural Idaho communities by conducting focus groups in American Falls, Cascade, Council, Pierce-Weippe, Shoshone and Salmon. The dominant themes across communities included:

  • Mental health services, from counseling to residential programs, prevention, intervention and follow up (including suicide and substance abuse), are needed and desired for all age groups.

  • Residents without transportation and/or other factors limiting travel have difficulty accessing health care in their communities and specialty care outside of their communities. Basics such as dental care, physical therapy and pharmacy services may not be available locally.

  • Residents recognize the “aging” of their community and the increases in age-related illnesses such as COPD, hypertension, diabetes and cancer.

  • The availability and cost of housing is a concern, especially when combined with the cost of health care and other expenses.

  • A “Community EMS” model to assist with follow-up care, check-ins with the elderly and prompt medical attention in emergencies is of interest in many communities. Click to read about a Community EMS service ICF funded recently.

  • Community centers for recreation, education and other community-building opportunities are desired in communities without them.

  • Rural healthcare providers are increasingly using telemedicine for access to specialists. Focus group participants had little to no experience with telehealth and were ambivalent and/or skeptical about receiving health care in this manner.

The Community Needs and Opportunity Assessment was conducted for the Lewis Clark Valley Healthcare Foundation, which serves nine counties in north central Idaho, northeast Oregon and southeast Washington. Community organizations and local residents were encouraged to share input on community needs.

These four themes were identified:

  • Economic security and empowerment – Unexpected household hardships and rising costs of living impact the health and well-being of persons, particularly financial insecure households, in this region. Addressing food insecurity/hunger, transportation obstacles and support for struggling households (such as fixed-income seniors and low-income working families) were key themes reflected in the assessment.

  • Educational opportunity and youth development – Empowering residents to improve health and expand personal opportunity starts with access to education. The assessment revealed that school-based supports (such as mental health counseling), activities for teenagers, and training/education pathways that improve job prospects represent current gaps in many communities.

  • Access to quality health and dental services – Access to quality medical and dental care stood out as a key need highlighted in this assessment. There are numerous challenges to health service delivery throughout this region – distance, cost and a changing policy environment among them. But these challenges create an opportunity for innovative delivery models such as telehealth, patient engagement such as mobile care, and philanthropic support for rural residents. This assessment underlines the strong desire to have predictable, accessible and affordable health care available to all community members.

  • Community development and social connection – The strength and pride and witnessed in the towns and rural communities throughout this region stood out as a memorable takeaway from this assessment process. Participants expressed a strong desire to work together to improve health by supporting community gathering and recreation places and inclusive civic participation models. Bringing people together and building on community pride – through housing options, community centers, public spaces and community-led initiatives – are all avenues for bolstering health and wellness.

“We were proud to participate in these partnerships and to see that the Areas of Impact that we identified through our Community Conversations and follow-up efforts are reflected in the findings,” said Cara Walker, ICF’s chief strategy and engagement officer.

“By continuing to collaborate with other funders, community organizations and people throughout Idaho, we will continue providing opportunities to address these important issues.”

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Idaho Community Foundation
210 West State Street  •  Boise, ID 83702
Phone: 208.342.3535  |  Fax: 208.342.3577  |  Email: info@idahocf.org