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Topic: king county

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November 20, 2014 at 6:05 AM

Are King County taxpayers ready to fund levy focused on early childhood?

Seattleites just voted overwhelmingly to fund universal preschool. Will King County taxpayers supplement that effort next August or October by passing the Best Starts for Kids levy? This measure being floated by King County Executive Dow Constantine would fund early childhood programs and youth services. During a phone interview this week, Constantine said details are yet…

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Comments | Topics: brain development, early childhood, early learning

November 13, 2014 at 6:04 AM

King County Council wisely steps up to save public health, women’s health services

Hats off to the King County Council for unveiling a proposed 2015-2016 budget this week that keeps the county’s 10 public health clinics open — at least for now.

King County Councilmember Joe McDermott

King County Councilmember Joe McDermott

“The council recognized the importance of these services, especially maternity support services and the [Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children] that are unique to the county and that others don’t provide,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, chair of the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee.

Faced with a $15 million annual shortfall, Public Health — Seattle & King County has been scrambling to find partners to take over some or all of the direct services provided at its clinics, including primary care, family planning, maternity support and supplemental nutrition for infants. An Oct. 30 Seattle Times editorial commended efforts by cities and local health care partners to keep sites open in Federal Way and White Center. Public health employees even agreed to wage concessions, but it wasn’t enough to close the funding gap.

Before this week’s announcement, two sites were slated for closure in January — the Northshore Public Health Center in Bothell and the more heavily-used Auburn Public Health Clinic. (I profiled one of the clinic’s patients in a Nov. 3 blog post.) Last week, I followed up on a community effort to save the Auburn site, which included pledges from various groups totaling about $700,000. That amount fell short of the $1.6 million needed to prevent closure.

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Comments | Topics: birth control, king county, public health

November 6, 2014 at 12:12 PM

More community action necessary to save women’s health services in South King County

The race to find enough funding to keep the Auburn Public Health Clinic open just got a nice boost from local funders, but it’s not enough to prevent closure in January.

(Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

On Wednesday, Nov. 5, King County Executive Dow Constantine held a news conference at Auburn City Hall to announce those organizations that have stepped up to help Public Health — Seattle & King County keep the Auburn Public Health Center open. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

More cities, nonprofits and businesses still need to step up to help thousands of South King County’s most vulnerable women maintain access to family-planning services, as well as support programs for mothers and newborns.

On Wednesday, King County Executive Dow Constantine and other county leaders announced a coalition has come forward and pledged between $550,000 to about $700,000 total to help Public Health — Seattle & King County offset a revised shortfall of about $1.6 million to keep the only standalone family-planning clinic (and its two satellite offices) accessible.

Here’s the key date for the community to act: Nov. 17. On that day, the Metropolitan King County Council is set to vote on the budget for the next two years. A blueprint will be revealed about a week before.

The more funds can be identified before then, the less likely the county will have to consider peeling off resources from other critical service areas.

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Comments | Topics: birth control, king county, public health

November 3, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Save women’s health, maternity support services in South King County

Dariia Leavitt, 25, is just one among thousands of clients watching closely to see if the Auburn Public Health Clinic remains open next January.

Dariia Leavitt signed up as a maternity support services client in 2011. (Photo courtesy of Dariia Leavitt)

Dariia Leavitt signed up as a maternity support services client at the Auburn Public Health Clinic in 2011. Today, she goes to the clinic for family planning services. (Photo courtesy of Dariia Leavitt)

Her story helps to make the case for why last Friday’s Seattle Times editorial called on elected officials, health providers and women’s health advocates to find about $1.7 million as soon as possible to keep the site open. Without that money or partners, the county will have to close a vulnerable section of South King County’s only standalone family planning clinic in January.

Leavitt first sought help three years ago after her daughter, Eve, was born. At the time, Leavitt had just arrived from the Ukraine, could not drive and spoke little English. After her mother-in-law learned about the Auburn clinic, Leavitt initially signed up as a client for Maternity Support Services (MSS). Thanks to this state program administered by King County, nurses conducted home visits to check on the baby’s health, offered Leavitt tips for better breastfeeding and answered her questions about being a first-time mother.

“It meant a lot to me,” Leavitt said earlier this month in one of the clinic’s meeting rooms, as Eve slept in her arms. The baby “got help when she needed it. We didn’t have to wait until I had insurance or could drive a car, and I didn’t have to borrow any money from anybody because I could afford paying the bill myself.

And even if I didn’t have the money at that time, I could pay the next time,” she added. “You can’t do that at regular clinics. It really helped me. I didn’t have to get a credit card.”

About 10,700 clients in the Auburn area — including women, teens, children and infants — rely on Public Health’s nurses and staff to learn parenting skills and access supplemental nutrition programs.

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Comments | Topics: auburn, birth control, king county

October 17, 2014 at 12:02 PM

King County, Washington state must remain at forefront of fight against sex trafficking and Backpage.com

Earlier this week, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg joined with community groups and seven local law-enforcement agencies to announce a new effort to crack down on the commercial sex industry by focusing on the thousands of  johns who fuel the demand for this illicit trade.

On Wednesday, Seattle Times reporter Sara Jean Green wrote about how recent stings have led to 105 arrests within three months. That same day, a new coalition that includes the Organization of Prostitution Survivors outlined plans to catch more buyers, deter them from committing crimes and help them to understand the harm their actions inflict upon vulnerable women and girls. The editorial board commended the collaborative project as a meaningful step toward saving these victims from a life of enslavement and manipulation by pimps.

A high number of sexual encounters these days are initiated online via seedy adult classifieds ads on sites such as Backpage.com. (King County reports there are at least 100 sites frequented on a daily basis by about 27,000 men countywide.)

As King County and police officers in Seattle, Kent, SeaTac, Federal Way, Bellevue and Des Moines prepare to take a tougher approach toward arresting and prosecuting more buyers, keep an eye out for potential actions from the state Supreme Court.

Next Tuesday, the justices will hear arguments for a case in which three girls are suing Backpage.com for damages after their former pimps posted their photos and advertised them for sex services online. Once they were able to escape the life,

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Comments | Topics: backpage, king county, prostitution

October 14, 2014 at 6:05 AM

Charts: Wake up and fund public health, prevention services

“When public health is effective, the public isn’t thinking about it,” says Metropolitan King County Council member Joe McDermott, head of the panel’s budget committee this year. It’s true. Prevention is not sexy. Fewer people care when the system works. However, the Ebola scare sweeping the world should be a wake-up call. Why wait for an…

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Comments | Topics: ebola, family planning, funding

July 16, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Seattle Times editorial board recommendations for 2014 primary

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Corrected version

Voters this week are receiving their ballots in the mail for the Aug. 5 primary.

This summer, Seattle Times editorial board members are interviewing candidates in select races for state and federal office, and in pro and con campaigns in statewide and local initiatives. We have published most of our recommendations for the primary in races where more than two candidates appear on the ballot. We will continue interviews for the remaining races that will also be settled by the November ballot.

If you have questions about King County Elections, call 206-296-VOTE or go to kingcounty.gov/elections.

If you have questions about Snohomish County Elections, call 425-388-3444 or go to the Snohomish County Election division website.

For questions about Washington state elections, go to the Secretary of State election website.

Here are our recommendations for selected races in King and Snohomish counties and for ballot measures. And read Editorial Page Editor Kate Riley explain how these election endorsements are made.

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Comments | Topics: Aug. 5, election, king county

January 20, 2014 at 6:08 AM

What will it take to fulfill MLK’s dream, create equality in King County?

As The Seattle Times’ Martin Luther King Jr. Day editorial suggests, this is a time to reflect on how far King County has come toward accomplishing the civil rights legend’s dream of a fair and just society — and how much farther we have to go.

Source: 2013 King County Equity and Social Justice Report

Source: 2013 King County Equity and Social Justice Report

 

Two must-reads that inspired our board’s view are King County’s Equity and Social Justice Annual Reports in 2012 and 2013. Both are a punch to the gut. They represent public health officials’ courageous effort to lay bare a simple fact: Race and place are directly linked to opportunities for better health, higher incomes and longer lives.

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Comments | Topics: equity, justice, king county

January 14, 2014 at 6:08 AM

5 charts about smoking in King County that will surprise you

U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry holds a copy of the 387 page report of the Advisory Committe to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service on the relationship of smoking to health Jan. 11, 1964. He spoke at a Washington news conference at which the study was released. It termed smoking a health hazard calling for corrective action. (AP Photo)

U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry holds a copy of the 387-page report of the Advisory Committe to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service on the relationship of smoking to health Jan. 11, 1964. He spoke at a Washington news conference at which the study was released. It termed smoking a health hazard calling for corrective action. (AP Photo)

Tuesday’s editorial in The Seattle Times focuses on the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Surgeon General’s report linking tobacco use to health risks. Please read it and help raise awareness about this public health crisis. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in King County and Washington state. And we can do something about it.

It doesn’t matter that about 88 percent of King County residents don’t use tobacco. We still have to worry about the 12 percent who do. They are the targets of the tobacco industry’s robust marketing campaigns. Low-income people are more likely to take up the habit, as are minorities and the less educated.

Nearly 4,800 kids take up smoking every year and 244,000 more minors are exposed to second-hand smoke at home. In Washington state, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reports 7,600 people die every year from tobacco use; about 124,000 under the age of 18 will die prematurely from smoking. Click on this link to see more disturbing statistics, including estimates that annual health care costs in Washington caused by smoking has reached nearly $2 billion.

Here are five charts from a 2012 King County Public Health Data Watch report that prove why further action is necessary to stamp out persistent tobacco use:

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Comments | Topics: king county, smoking, surgeon general

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