By Terren Roloff, WSU Spokane
SPOKANE, Wash. – Healthy housing is the focus of a novel collaboration between Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane and its community neighbors, funded by a $100,000 grant from the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund.
The “University-Community Partnership to Reduce Children’s Health Disparities” will foster student engagement, innovative practice at Spokane’s Teaching Health Clinic and research addressing healthy housing.
The project is inspired by WSU College of Nursing professor Patricia Butterfield’s research on substandard housing and environmental health risks.
“Our previous research, conducted in Montana and western Washington, reduced health risks to children by focusing on their living conditions and homes,” she said. “Now that work will take root in Spokane neighborhoods.”
Butterfield and WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown will co-direct the effort.
“It makes sense that students and faculty on our health sciences campus listen to residents’ health concerns and then work to address them,” Brown said. “We are grateful to the Smith-Barbieri Fund for this opportunity.”
“WSU Spokane has a student population of future health care professionals already oriented toward helping others and engaging in outreach activities,” said Sharon Smith, co-trustee of the fund. “The fund is excited to help them grow their excellent track record of commitment to the community.”
The Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund is a 501(c)3 charitable foundation that focuses on eradicating poverty, expanding affordable housing and other quality of life issues in the Inland Northwest. Learn more at http://www.smith-barbieri.com.
Specifically, the partnership will:
• Support community-based and epidemiologic research aimed at reducing housing-related health disparities in Spokane children.
• Create an inter-professional community of WSU Spokane health sciences students and faculty who are trained and interested in focusing on housing-related needs and health inequities to work with the neighborhood.
• Amplify the positive societal impact of WSU Spokane by extending the university’s reach into local neighborhoods.
• Lay the foundation for strong connections between clinical services and local residents’ needs.
An interdisciplinary student organization, the Health Equity Circle, is a key component of WSU Spokane’s strategy to build a relationship with its neighbors and learn about their needs and how best to initiate transformation. The students represent WSU and Eastern Washington University programs in a variety of health sciences.
University participants will work with neighborhood organizations, schools, the Spokane Regional Health District,and the Global to Local program, which already works with WSU and other partners to demonstrate the effectiveness of global health strategies to improve the health status of underserved local communities.