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Public Health Works for You: Healthy. Vital. Everyone. Everywhere.

Director of Health Dr. Anthony Chen
by Anthony Chen01/16/2019 3:52 p.m.
Updated: 01/17/2019

On Monday, the Washington State Legislature convened a new session, during which Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department will provide information and education on several important public health issues.

In a series of blog posts, I will explore our 2019 Legislative Priorities. My first post will focus on a statewide effort among local public health jurisdictions to provide and support a more consistent level of services.


Public health works behind the scenes all the time to monitor and respond to disease outbreaks. In this video, learn about steps we took to protect the public during a recent hepatitis C disease outbreak.

Population growth strains public health safety net

Washington’s population has grown by more than one million residents since 2000. In that same time, when adjusted for inflation and population growth, public health funding has decreased by 40%.

Public health has a critical and unique role to protect and improve the health of families and communities. Yet, without adequate funding, public health cannot keep up with growing demands.

Diseases like hepatitis C and West Nile Virus are more complex and taking longer to investigate, and our population is expected to grow by another two million residents by 2025. Public health resources are stretched thin. Multiple disease outbreaks happening at the same time can overload the public health system, and we can’t respond to critical health threats.

In 2016, all local health jurisdictions in the state worked together to identify Foundational Public Health Services: essential services all state residents should be able to rely upon, whether they live in Pierce County or Pend Oreille.

With our share of the Legislature’s initial investment in 2017-2018, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department expanded our disease investigation and childhood immunization efforts and developed efficiencies to ensure health care providers have the most up-to-date, reliable health information.

The additional funding was just in time to help us investigate, track and respond to a hepatitis C outbreak in a hospital setting. Learn more in this video.

In the 2019 legislative session, local health jurisdictions around the state will advocate for a sustained investment in Foundational Public Health Services.

Public health’s work to track, respond to, and prevent costly food and water contamination and disease outbreaks is essential to protect the public’s health. Rebuilding our public health services means we can better monitor and coordinate emergency response—keeping our communities safe, reducing costs for taxpayers and protecting our local economy.

Our families and communities deserve reliable and efficient public health services, information and response. We have a frayed public health safety net, but with support from the Legislature we can fix it to protect everyone in Washington.

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  1. Updated: 01/17/2019
Director of Health Dr. Anthony Chen

by Anthony Chen

Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH, is the Director of Health at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and chief health strategist for Pierce County.

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