The Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts typically publishes reports on particular health issues and not ourselves. However, we often are asked about our regional reach, funding sources, partnership structures, and the scope of our work. In this report, we aim to answer some of these questions as we reflect on the past five years as the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts. We also hope this report serves as a baseline for future annual reports.
Our Springfield Health Equity Report (2014) highlighted alarming racial and ethnic health disparities in our region and built understanding of “social determinants of health.”
The BEST Oral Health program created a local system of education, screening and treatment for preschools to decrease oral health disease as well as changed statewide policies with regard to reimbursement with the Medicaid system and toothbrushing during the school day. The model was accepted as best practice and replicated nationally. The model was accepted as best practice and replicated nationally.
The Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition worked with Springfield Public Schools and the City of Springfield Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management to implement policy and procedure changes to improve asthma management and indoor air quality. These efforts led to decreases in emergency room visits and increased class time for students with asthma. Two Springfield schools received the national 2014 Asthma Friendly School Award. As part of the Healthy Holyoke collaboration, Holyoke Public Schools adopted similar policies in 2017.
Health Impact Assessment on the Western Massachusetts Casino (2013) This study highlighted the health impact on vulnerable populations, increased community understanding of these potential impacts and made recommendations to the MA Gaming Commission for procedures and policies to ensure positive health impacts.
Live Well Springfield brings together over 30 organizations working together to build and sustain a culture of health in Springfield that includes the broadest definition of health, including, healthy eating, active living, the built environment, economic opportunity, housing, and education. Signature projects include the formation of the Springfield Food Policy Council, the successful 9-year Go Fresh Mobile Farmer’s Market and policies such as zoning, community gardens and complete streets ordinances.
The YEAH! Network (Youth Empowerment Adolescent Network) engaged diverse community stakeholders who work together to create a proactive, comprehensive response to adverse adolescent sexual health and adolescent sexuality. Between 2004-2015 there was a 59% decrease in teen birth rates in Holyoke and a 45% decrease in Springfield. Work continues to address inequities.