From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: A year of progress toward helping Idahoans become as healthy and self-sufficient as possible

June 10, 2022
DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

As part of Strategic Goal 3, the department is committed to serving Idahoans by making sure that:

  • The suicide rate in Idaho is reduced
  • Idahoans become as healthy and self-sufficient as possible through community-driven health initiatives
  • There is a measurable reduction in abuse, neglect, and other damaging adverse childhood experiences in Idaho families

This article highlights and celebrates some of our key achievements from the current Strategic Plan.

Objective 3.1: Reduce Idaho's suicide rate by 20 percent by 2025.

  • We believe that suicide deaths are preventable. The department’s Suicide Prevention Program has successfully recruited healthcare partners to implement a suicide care model called Zero Suicide. The model is that patients get the care they need when they need it. The provider partners are Shoshone Medical Center in Kellogg, Snake River Community Clinic in Lewiston, and Caribou Medical Center in Soda Springs. Additional medical providers plan to implement Zero Suicide in Idaho.
  • Suicide postvention is the actions taken after a suicide has occurred to prevent additional suicides. The department’s Suicide Prevention Program has an Idaho suicide postvention toolkit, and is working with each of Idaho’s local public health districts to develop postvention goals. The team also launched a suicide prevention social media campaign called Rock Your Role: Know the Signs.
  • The campaign and postvention toolkits help expand resources to agricultural and farming community members in rural Idaho. Other activities to help raise suicide prevention awareness and promote postvention resources included distribution of gun locks and medication/drug lock boxes.

Objective 3.2: Address health disparities and the social determinants of health (SDOH) associated with the priority health issues (diabetes, obesity, injury, and behavioral health) by partnering with and investing in at least one high-risk community per year, through June 2024.

  • The department successfully worked with the Western Idaho Community Health Coalition (WICHC) in Elmore County. WICHC will invest in community-level approaches that impact health such as housing, neighborhood conditions, and education. The priorities identified in Elmore County are the healthcare system, and neighborhood and physical environment. The department awarded a second high-risk community subgrant to Southeast Idaho United Way, focusing on Bannock County.
  • The department published an evaluation on the progress of Get Healthy Idaho work. The report includes opportunities for new funding possibilities and recommendations to help Get Healthy Idaho grow so communities are equipped to thrive. One of these recommendations involved establishing a partnership with the Idaho Funders Network. The Get Healthy Idaho team took part in the first Idaho Funders Summit in September 2021.
  • DHW partnered with Boise State University to develop the Idaho Health Report Card at the request of the Health Quality Planning Commission. The vision of the health report card is to promote a unified approach to assess the health of Idaho, identify areas of greatest concern, and drive action among partners and policy-makers invested in supporting Idahoans to live their healthiest lives possible. 
  • This team also partnered on the Healthy Idaho Places Index. They completed Phase 1 of the project, which included defining the data process methodology and finalizing the metrics for the Idaho Health Report Card and the Healthy Idaho Places Index. The team expects to launch the index this summer. It will be a rich source of data that combines the social determinants of health and Idaho’s existing health outcomes to identify highest-risk communities and neighborhoods that need support. It also will serve as a driver for health policy decisions and resource dedication across state partnerships.

Objective 3.3: Implement three evidence informed initiatives that reduce harmful adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in Idaho families by July 1, 2023.

  • The department worked with medical providers to increase screening to interrupt the intergenerational transmission of ACEs in families. A Parent Advisory Committee assisting with this task used focus group feedback to develop trauma-informed, human-centered screening guidelines for physicians.
  • New screening guidelines are being integrated into provider practices in the Treasure Valley this fall, with a plan to expand beyond the Treasure Valley in coming years.
  • The department has organized a dynamic ACEs team with more than a dozen members from divisions throughout the department. The team is developing a clear picture of what ACEs data the department has, and how we can use the data to support programs to address ACEs as an agency. The desired outcome is to identify work already started in DHW and with partners, and to build a coordinated approach to the data that identifies shared indicators about where DHW can focus as an agency.

You can follow the DHW’s work toward our mission and read more about our Strategic Plan on our website.

I hope you have a safe and healthy weekend.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.