Pinellas County adopts ‘Health in All Policies’

Social determinants of health to be included in policy-making include housing and neighborhoods; public safety; water and sanitation; natural environment; built environment; transportation; economic development; and community context.

CLEARWATER — Pinellas County commissioners gave unanimous approval Aug. 6 to a resolution adopting a “Health in All Policies” approach to decision making.

Commissioner Ken Welch was absent, due to injuries from a bicycling accident.

“Health in All Policies is a collaborative approach to improving the health of all people by incorporating health considerations into decision making across sectors and policy areas,” said Caitlin Murphy, the county’s new health planner.

Health in All Policies, aka HiAP, is a method use to achieve health equity and address social determinants of health, Murphy said.

The Department of Health Pinellas County and the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg received a Transformative Grant in July 2018 to bring health and equity considerations into the development of policies, programs and services of local governmental agencies.

Since that time, planners trained in public health have been added to county staff and planning departments at the cities of St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park. These planners’ job is to making sure health impacts are considered in policy decisions.

When DOH-Pinellas announced receipt of the grant in 2018, Randall H. Russell, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, pointed out that the HiAP initiative in Pinellas would be unique because it would include the dedicated planners. Other communities using the HiAP model have not done that, he said.

“Health in All Policies is a cost-effective and evidence-based framework designed by the World Health Organization to foster an environment that promotes health and improves the mental and physical well-being of residents in communities around the globe,” according to information at the Foundation for Healthy St. Petersburg’s website.

The county’s resolution says, “Health and well-being of residents is critical for a prosperous and sustainable community. All department have a role to play in achieving health equity,” which is defined as the “attainment of the highest level of health for all people.”

Health is influenced by a number of factors including social, economic, service and physical environments, which are known as the “social determinants of health.”

Using HiAP, future policy decisions will consider the effect on preventable chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, cancers, diabetes, mental illness, substance abuse and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as well as unintentional injuries, such as traffic crashes, poisoning, firearms and falls.

At the July 11 event, Sandra Whitehead, from the National Environmental Health Association, said HIAP would require input and participation from governments and partners as well as the public.

“It can’t be one person or one agency driving the boat,” she said. “Pinellas is one of the only communities I’ve seen where the health department is so heavily involved, but it’s going to require partnerships to make these improvements.”

Murphy said so far, the local HiAP collaborative includes Pinellas County, the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, the Department of Health, St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park and Forward Pinellas, who are working to develop “cross sector relationships.”

She encouraged the commission to pass the resolution to “formally acknowledge that all departments have a role to play in community well-being and reinforce the consideration of health, equity and the social determinants of health in county decision-making.”

Commissioner Dave Eggers thanked Murphy for her work.

“I would like to think that our departments do this intuitively,” he said, adding that it is nice to have more tools to be able to respond to residents’ needs and concerns quicker.

“I commend you for your work, but I hope we’re already doing a lot of it,” he said.

In other business, the commission:

• Unanimously approved, as part of the consent agenda, staff’s recommendation to award a $1.27 million agreement to PCL Construction Inc. for professional design build services for the Dunn Water Reclamation Facility Filtration and Disinfection Improvements project.

• Said yes to scheduling public hearing dates to consider proposed amendments to the Countywide Plan Strategies and Rules on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 9:30 a.m., and Tuesday, Oct. 22, 6:30 p.m.

• Approved ratification of the county administrator’s approval of $300,000 for a 60-month term with Port A Pit Inc. for emergency food services at the Emergency Operations Center, Public Works Emergency Facility and Utilities Department South Building. Employees working on site during an emergency would be provided with box breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

• Approved renewal and an amendment to the agreement with Catholic Charities Diocese of St. Petersburg for funding of $500,000 for Pinellas Hope.

• Approved a funding agreement for $434,000 with the Homeless Leadership Board for a diversion program and bridge housing for families.

• Approved a grant agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for the Long Key/Upham Beach Groin Replacement Project. FEDP will provide up to $1.08 million and the county will fund a matching amount.

• Approved a resolution amending the allowable industrial pretreatment program local limits for the presence of pollutants by industrial sewer customers to stay in compliance with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.