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Program aims to improve home health

'Healthy Homes' initiative assesses home environment's effect on health issues

A new program from Community Action Team, or CAT, is helping ill residents eliminate health hazards from their homes.

Healthy Homes is a new, grant-funded pilot program that was launched in April. The program’s purpose is to identify people who have existing health issues and assess whether conditions in their homes could be exacerbating those issues. The free program is available to Oregon Health Plan members.

Program director Beverly Danner said CAT just recently delved into the Healthy Homes initiative and hopes to serve 30 households.

Issues in the home can range from old carpeting or mattresses, which can accumulate allergens and bacteria, to leaks, ventilation problems, or mold in the walls. Danner said the program encompasses projects big and small.

“It’s really environmental issues,” Danner said last week. She noted that most issues can be resolved with updated furniture or flooring, but some health hazards go beyond that.

“The next one we’re working on is structural,” she said. “We’re going to have to go in and tear some walls down. You don’t know what each case is going to be until we go out and look.”

Healthy Homes partners with Oregon Health and Sciences University, as well as Legacy Health, for client referrals. Most of the clients are dealing with respiratory ailments, such as asthma, or issues involving the hips, Danner said.

Funding for the program came from the Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization, which awarded $50,000 toward CAT’s efforts. Danner said CAT reached out to other regional agencies and organizations for matching funds.

Healthy Homes’ approach isn’t just a quick fix, she said.

“We sit down and do kind of a small education with the repairs,” she said. “There’s some case management and counsel that has to go along with it for the clean-up to be successful. We’ve been working closely with our human investment team here.”

While the program won’t be a permanent fixture, Danner said she hopes the Healthy Homes model can be carried out by other local agencies.

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