When 2020 began, the Olympic Peninsula Healthy Community Coalition (OPHCC) was working full-steam ahead on parallel tracks: actively building and organizing a broad coalition of community partners to focus on reducing chronic illness through healthy lifestyle choices, building an organization capable of assisting others with programmatic and policy change in support of improved health, and building contractual relationships with health care providers to support their important efforts to reduce the terrible impacts of chronic illness on local residents.
The cumulative impact of these efforts include the successful launch and implementation of the Ready-Set-Go 5210 program throughout our community which promotes the four most impactful evidence-based strategies we can all adopt to improve our health: 5 or more servings of fruit and veggies each day, 2 hours of less of recreational screen time, 1 hour of physical activity and 0 sugar-added beverages.
OPHCC’s Executive Director Leslee Francis supports this work by doing a little bit of everything ranging from staffing the "smoothie bike" activity at school events, to organizing and implementing regular meetings of the 50+ member OPHCC, to meeting with the CEOs of local hospitals and health clinics to develop programming specific to their staff and their needs, to reporting on contractual obligations to the Olympic Community of Health as the OPHCC supports the Medicare transformation project.
Suddenly COVID and the Need for an Expanded Resource Line
OPHCC and Leslee have pivoted priorities on a dime in order to help meet the need created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Clallam County began planning its response to this pandemic it became apparent that many residents would soon find themselves in need of connection to assistance: Maybe to inquire about getting food from a local food bank for the first time; maybe looking for child care when asked to work extra shifts at the hospital; maybe looking for help with new feelings of anxiety, or in search of help due to isolation.
While the “211 Help Line” has historically served as the go-to resource for getting answers to these questions, it was apparent this existing resource would not be enough to meet the new need. When County Commissioner Mark Ozias wondered how to bolster this resource he thought of Leslee Francis. She was the one person who had already built OPHCC’s vast network of partners and who had the tenacity to get big things done quickly.
When Mark called Leslee to ask for help, without hesitation she said “yes.” When presented with an unexpected, unknown and complex challenge most of us would hesitate. We would say maybe. We would ask for time to think it over. We would think of the barriers. Leslee said “yes” and got to work. The end result? A comprehensive, real-time-updated, locally-staffed improvement to Clallam County’ traditional 211 service and a conversation with other 211 partners about making this COVID-driven project permanent given its success.
ABOUT DR. M
Dr. Monica Dixon, our resident Blogger, has a 30 year history of work in the worlds of nutrition, physical activity, and helping to make communities healthier.
Though health information abounds on the internet, much of it is ill-founded and not based in the good science that tells us what really works and what doesn't.
Dr. M is a registered dietitian, culinary nutritionist, and a health psychologist.