New Health Dashboard Helps Placer ‘Be Well'

Published on February 10, 2016

Placer is California's second healthiest county, but today county staff introduced a new tool they hope will help Placer on the road to claiming the first place spot.

Interactive and user-friendly, Be Well Placer is an online community health dashboard, a one-stop-shop to explore a wide array of data about the health of Placer County so county staff and partner agencies can provide the right services where they're needed most.

"You don't have to be an epidemiologist to navigate the site. In fact, you don't even have to know how to spell epidemiologist," said Placer's public health officer, Dr. Rob Oldham. "It's really that intuitive."

As a health leader in California, the dashboard's green-to-red rating system shows Placer as green in most areas, though a number of challenges remain.

Presenting the dashboard at today's board of supervisors meeting, Oldham also shared some of the health department's successes from last year, and goals for 2016. Addressing prescription drug abuse and overdoses is a high priority, and the county partnered with the Placer Nevada County Medical Society and Nevada County to form an opioid safety coalition in 2015 to help.

The Public Health Division launched significant efforts to increase immunizations last year, and Placer's Kindergarten vaccination rate increased from 86.4% to 88.8% for the 2015 to 2016 school year, according to a recent report from the California Department of Public Health. Kindergarten personal belief exemptions are also down from 8% to 5.96%, one of the most significant improvements in the state. Increasing vaccinations and implementing the new state law that abolished the personal belief exemption remain a Placer priority for 2016.

Placer's handling of travelers returning from Ebola-impacted countries during the Ebola outbreak stands out as a success, with public health officials carefully monitoring returning travelers with excellent customer service while being careful not to cause unnecessary alarm.

A top priority for 2016 includes what Oldham refers to as a personal passion because of his experience as a psychiatrist.

"There's a whole community of people involved in any one person's wellness, especially for those who suffer from mental health or substance abuse issues," Oldham says. "We need to continue working toward coordinating all the services they receive in a ‘whole person' care model, so we can work collaboratively to keep our community members healthy - and keep smaller health issues from becoming big ones."