Public health

Public health and public health nurses are our first line of defense when it comes to health.

Public health is the science of keeping our communities and populations healthy – through disease prevention and response, disaster response and emergency preparedness, and preventing food and water contamination.

Public health nurses play a critical role in keeping our communities healthy and safe – from working with moms to ensure babies have a healthy start, to providing immunizations, to disease prevention and response.

Public health funding #

Providing public health services is a shared state and local responsibility. Yet new, complex threats and recession budget cuts have made it harder for the public health system to protect and serve Washington's families and communities.

An adequate, stable, and long-term funding source for public health has long been a top priority for WSNA because public health and public health nursing are the foundation of our health care system. It’s time to rebuild our public health services to keep our communities safe, reduce costs for taxpayers, and protect our local economy.

In the 2017 state legislative session, the legislature provided a new, one-time $12 million investment in core public health services. This seed money is essential to support Foundational Public Health Services, especially as it struggles to address the spiking rates of communicable disease across our state. While this new investment is helpful, it is a drop in the bucket toward adequately funding Washington’s public health system to ensure it can track, respond to and prevent disease outbreaks.

Washington State Legislature invests a new $12 million in public health

June 30, 2017 – In its final budget, the Legislature provided $12 million in new one-time funding for public health – the first new investment in our state’s public health agencies since 2006. Of the $12 million:

  • $10 million is allocated to local health jurisdictions to improve their ability to address communicable disease monitoring and prevention, and chronic disease and injury prevention; and,
  • $2 million is appropriated to the Washington State Department of Health as part of Foundational Public Health Services.

Opioids #

We see the effects of the opioid epidemic in our communities, hospitals and clinics.

Federal, state and local governments are responding to the opioid epidemic with initiatives aimed at preventing opioid abuse, identifying effective treatments, and preventing deaths from overdoses.

The Washington State Nurses Association and the American Nurses Association have both taken action to support these efforts.

WSNA and the Washington State Interagency Opioid Working Plan

WSNA is among the stakeholders in our state who have expressed a particular interest in and commitment to addressing opioid use and overdose prevention in support of the WA State Interagency Opioid Working Plan. This plan is the state’s comprehensive strategy to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with opioids. State government agencies, local health departments, professional groups and community organizations are working together to implement the priority goals, strategies and actions contained in the plan.


Current initiatives #

Public Health is Essential

WSNA is a key partner in the Public Health is Essential campaign aimed at educating lawmakers and the public about the critical work of our state and local public health agencies – and why that work needs stable, adequate funding to protect our families and communities.

Foundational Public Health Services

Washington state has led the nation in developing the Foundational Public Health Services (FPHS) framework which identifies core public health services that must be available to every resident of the state, no matter where they live. In addition to the core services, the FPHS model identifies a group of cross-cutting capabilities and infrastructure that must be in place to support the delivery of core services. The FPHS framework also recognizes that in addition to core services and capabilities, local health departments must implement other services to meet community-driven needs.

Additionally, the statewide FPHS work has identified modernization needs within Washington state’s public health system. This includes the need to streamline operations across the state to be more effective and efficient by implementing shared services – where smaller local health departments might share services or contract with a larger local health department for some needs.

Resources #