Affordable dental and preventive medical care top the list of services needed in Whitman County

Nov 19, 2015

Whitman County residents are in need of affordable dental care and access to preventive medical care. These are the findings of a recently conducted comprehensive needs assessment survey sponsored by Palouse area health agencies in which more than 1,000 Whitman County residents responded.

Surveys were completed online in spring 2015 and had 266 questions about quality of life, economic development, employment, health, housing, food security and use of social services. The Whitman County Health Network and other area agencies commissioned the assessment to better understand the needs of Whitman County residents.   

The Whitman County Health Network formed in 2014 to identify service gaps and to identify the county’s highest healthcare needs. Members of the Network include Pullman Regional Hospital, Community Action Center, Whitman County Public Health, Whitman Hospital and Medical Center, Palouse Medical, Pullman Family Medicine, Palouse River Counseling, Whitman Medical Group, and WSU Student Health. A Rural Health Network Development Planning grant from the Health and Human Resources Agency received by Pullman Regional Hospital Foundation helped fund the majority of the survey and prompted the establishment of the Whitman County Health Network.

Based on the findings, there are five key areas for improvement identified:

1)      Extreme need for affordable dental care

2)      Transportation to services

3)      Access to nutritious food

4)      Access to preventive care and mental health services

5)      Access to social services for low-income non-Pullman residents


Jeff Guyett, director of the Pullman Community Action Center, said “The assessment is a great first step in identifying the highest needs in Whitman County and will help prioritize how to address these gaps in services.”


Director of Whitman County Public Health Troy Henderson said “We are looking forward to working with the Whitman County Health Network to continue to address these important issues and dedicated to serving all residents of Whitman County.”

 “The Network will look to organize how to best address the top needs identified and work with partners to find creative delivery models and access to care, said Scott Adams, CEO of Pullman Regional Hospital.


Report highlights include:

  • 34 percent of Pullman residents and 36 percent of non-Pullman residents said they were unable to access preventive care (primary care) within the past year.
  • The most common health conditions ranked in households by resident and income are obesity, asthma, and diabetes. Low income, non-Pullman residents ranked their most common health conditions as dental disease, physical disability, and mental health.
  • Ten percent of low income Pullman and 19 percent of low-income non-Pullman residents reported going hungry in the last year because they were not able to get enough food.
  • 30 percent of low-income non-Pullman residents expressed difficulty finding transportation to access services.
  • Services that were difficult to access were cited as affordable dental care across Whitman County, mental health, help with heating/utility bills, and access to nutritious food.


The complete Community Needs Assessment report can be found on Pullman Regional Hospital’s Web site. Click here for the report.


The WSU Social and Economic Sciences Research Center designed, distributed, and collected the data from the survey. In addition, a multitude of organizations took part in the development and implementation of the survey. The support of the following organizations was invaluable and greatly appreciated:


Cost-Sharing Organizations

-          Pullman Regional Hospital

-          Community Action Center in Pullman

-          Council on Aging and Human Services in Colfax

-          Palouse Alliance for Health Individuals, Families, and Communities

-          Palouse River Counseling

-          Pullman School District

-          Pullman United Way

-          Whitman County Public Health

-          Washington State University Center for Civic Engagement


Other Stakeholder Organizations

-          Family Promise of the Palouse

-          Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse

-          Whitman Hospital and Medical Center

-          Friends of Hospice

-          Whitman County Library

-          BOOST Collaborative

-          City of Colfax

-          City of Palouse

-          City of Pullman

-          Department of Social and Health Services

-          Neill Public Library, Pullman



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