We need your voice! A note from Conner Darlington, Board Member.

The Health Care Authority’s Medicaid Transformation project is in full swing, and it’s time for the Board of the North Sound Accountable Community of Health to plan for next steps in our mission to better the health of the people of Lummi Nation, Nooksack Tribe, Samish Indian Nation, Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Tulalip Tribes, Upper Skagit Tribe; the communities of Island, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom counties.
My unique position on the Board of Directors is focused on lifting up the voices of the people who will be impacted by our decision, with special attention given to communities most impacted by systems of oppression. Referencing Rev. Dr. Barber, I don’t want people to speak for the people, but to let the people speak for themselves! I feel comfortable saying that the dominant culture of this region (and beyond) is for community input in important decision-making to be inauthentic and tokenizing; while I can’t guarantee I will be successful in accomplishing something different, I will strive to with all that I have.
I welcome all who would like to collaborate in this effort.  Please contact me at conner@northsoundach.org.


Launch of Tribal and Equity Series: Afterthoughts

Sometimes we get feedback after an event that shows the work ahead of us. As we embark on this journey of tribal and equity learning we are not looking for ‘pats on the back’, as much as we are looking for others who see the road ahead and its importance. This was one of those messages, and Ben gave his permission to share it here –

Hello Liz,

Thank you so much for letting us be at the table yesterday. I was awestruck and inspired. Everything about it was wonderful. My subjective experience with the breakout section was very educational. What I got from it was all of the agencies thinking in ways that they could improve their programs that they offer to the communities they support. While I see that as a baby step, I still see it as an effort to move in the same circles. It may be that they just want to continue to justify their organization.

What I was hoping to hear from them was the need to educate their communities in ways that make them self-sufficient rather than dependent on the largesse of the dominate culture. By that I am definitely saying that dominant culture do exactly as the Children of the Setting Sun described. Give them the tools and training so that they can be the doctors, lawyers and chief bottle washers. Not some bastardized version of what currently exist.

Those agencies and organization should be assisting in helping change behavior not culture. I have heard tribal people say it over and over again.  We do not need not need to be taught how to be white. We need their expertise at training to become masters of own destiny, not training to be apart of a system that has failed us all too often. Othering and Belonging are defining terms. Targeted Universalism is a shift in the way we currently operate and must be instituted to usher in the new paradigm.

Just my thinking. And once again thank you so much for giving us this opportunity to actually focus on solutions rather than holding up a system of principles that leaves us where we are, with a few new shiny objects.

Ben Young

Vice Chair Communities of Color Coalition

Chair North Puget Sound Conference on Race



Substance Use Disorder Information Guide

The Health Care Authority (HCA) has released Sharing Substance Use Disorder Information:  A Guide for Washington State. You can find it on the HCA website.

This guide supports whole-person health care by supporting exchange of information between a person’s behavioral and physical health providers. It also supports a person’s right to determine who may share and receive their substance use disorder (SUD) information.

Please feel free to share this resource with others.

Transgender Health ECHO Currently Accepting Applications [Deadline next week!]

Attention FQHCs!  Currently accepting applications for the July 2019 – June 2020 program.  Due May 24!

Through the use of the groundbreaking Project ECHO model, TransECHO creates a network of health centers and faculty expertise to increase clinician access to knowledge and support needed to provide culturally responsible, comprehensive, primary care for transgender and gender non-conforming patients.

Hosted by the Fenway Institute, TransECHO is a monthly program which provides the opportunity to tap into the collaborative power of health center teams and public health experts. Clinics participating in TransECHO will have 12 months of free training, technical assistance, and coaching to learn to better serve their transgender and non-binary clients.

The learning objectives of TransECHO are:

    1.   Improve my ability and my organization’s ability to provide high-quality care for transgender and gender non-conforming patients.
    2.   Assess and expand my organization’s capacity to create an affirming environment for transgender and gender non-conforming patients.
    3.  Build relationships with other organizations that will facilitate peer learning experiences, both during the ECHO sessions and beyond.
    4.   Develop and refine strategies that enable my organization to collect and utilize sexual orientation and gender identity data to improve health services and patient outcomes.

Sessions occur the third Wednesday of every month from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm PST starting July 17, 2019. Federally-Qualified Health Centers and look-alike clinics are encouraged to apply.

Applications are due May 24.  Click here to apply.
For more information, email transecho@fenwayhealth.org

“Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a collaborative model of medical education and care management that empowers clinicians everywhere to provide better care to more people, right where they live.” – About ECHO
The ECHO Experience
  • The opportunity to tap into the collaborative power of health center teams and public health experts
  • 12 months of free training, technical assistance, and coaching for your health center
  • Access to nationally-recognized faculty and experts
  • Access to state-of-the-art resources, tools, and effective practices

New Project Coordinators on Staff

 Just a month after adding two project managers to our staff, North Sound ACH had two project coordinators join our team as well.

Megan Argetsinger moved to Bellingham eight years ago to attend Western Washington University where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. Her major was titled The Body: Scientific and Cultural Perspectives, and explored the intersection between physical health, mental health, and the sociology of health. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Public Health through the University of Washington.

Megan has four years of direct patient care experience, most recently as an orthotic fitter serving hospitals and clinics throughout the North Sound region. Megan is very excited to be working in a public health and health systems role and looks forward to using her education and experience to serve her community.

Michaela Vendiola was born in Bellingham, Washington and raised on the Lummi Indian Reservation. She is an enrolled member of the Walker River Paiute Tribe and a descendant of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.

Michaela earned her bachelor’s degree at Western Washington University in American Cultural Studies with a minor in American Indian Studies. Most recently, she served as the Community Health Representative for the Home Visit Program at the Lummi Tribal Health Center. Her work focused on program development, patient outreach, and care coordination to serve at-risk Tribal elders of the Lummi Nation community.

Michaela is excited to begin utilizing her direct service experience and local Tribal health care experience and contribute her skills to the North Sound ACH.

Conference on Race

The Communities of Color Coalition (C3) provides speakers and trainings on issues affecting communities of color and other under-represented groups. Most recently, C3 hosted their largest annual event, the community-sponsored North Puget Sound Conference on Race April 20 in Everett.

This year’s conference theme, “School to Prison Pipeline: Breaking the Cycle” featured breakout workshops on health, education, culture, employment, housing, and restorative justice. Keynote speaker and University of Washington School of Social Work researcher, Robin DiAngelo, spoke to the contents of her bestselling book on white privilege and racism, White Fragility. The afternoon session featured speaker Aneelah Afzali, founder and Executive Director of the American Muslim Empowerment Network (AMEN) at the Muslim Association of the Puget Sound.

One breakout session offered was “We Rise: Building a Restorative Community”, an introduction to  the Restorative Justice movement and its applications in the city of Everett. The facilitators shared their own lived experiences  to illuminate their practices in using shared reflective mediation tools. Participants broke out into groups to discuss the following questions:

  • In what way might we inform community and city leaders of the challenges and opportunities to build resilience in the city?
  • Where are some places to start?  What does this look like?

Another breakout session, “Creating Communities of Educational Change” focused on turning plans and thoughts into action for community change. Marjorie James facilitated the workshop and shared her experience serving as the Curriculum and Engagement Manager in Tulalip Tribes Education as well as a Trustee for the Tulalip Foundation. After hearing Marjorie’s call to create communities for educational change, participants were asked to pair up and share key points about their work in the community. This interactive workshop challenged everyone to form a vision for the collective future of the school districts that serve us and our communities. Participants were encouraged to try and make at least one connection with someone in the room to carry community change forward and to continue to focus on making connections with community leaders who can catalyze change.

Offered free to interested participants, the conference had registration of over 700.  Check out photos from the event, as well as artwork created by youth at the Denney Juvenile Justice Center in Everett and Echo Glen Children’s Center in Snoqualmie on C3’s website.


C3’s Color Commentary Radio Program

Communities of Color Coalition (C3) is a non-profit, non-partisan group that meets in Snohomish County to discuss, problem-solve, and advocate for social justice, cultural and religious respect, and human rights, especially for people of color and other under-represented groups. Their major areas of concern include but are not limited to: the elimination of personal and institutional racism, equal access to and opportunities in education, equal access to and opportunities in economic development and employment, and fair and equal treatment under the law and in our society.

North Sound ACH is honored to partner with C3 by helping to sponsor their 2019 Conference on Race on April 20. With our similar goals and outlook, we want to leverage one another’s work to support healthier and more resilient communities.

C3’s Color Commentary Radio Program presented a three-part series dedicated to youth suicide and prevention, in observance of National Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month last September.  Two of the segments feature Dr. Benjamin Danielson from the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic; the other features Wendy Burchill, Community Health Specialists for the Snohomish County Health District.  These short segments feature information on youth suicide prevention, cultural and community factors, and highlight additional resources. 

“Color Commentary” —  providing you with experts, analysis and background information on racism, discrimination, and inclusion.

Part 1: Dr. Benjamin Danielson, Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic – 9/12/18

Part 2: Dr. Benjamin Danielson, Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic – 9/19/18

Part 3: Wendy Burchill, Snohomish Health District – 9/26/18

Students of Color Career Conference

On Wednesday, March 27, North Sound ACH staff members Amanda Robins and Leah Wainman had the privilege of attending Everett Community College’s 17th Annual Students of Color Career Conference. More than 2,200 middle school and high school students from Whatcom, King, and Snohomish counties attended. The event gave students the opportunity to meet and ask questions of a diverse set of professionals, who looked like them, spoke like them, and possess experience navigating a dominant culture work environment.

Leah and Amanda were invited by leaders of the Community of Color Coalition (C3). The conference opened with a land acknowledgement and a moving prayer from elementary school tribal students. The prayer was followed by Nikkita Oliver, who connected with students through rap, spoken word and a powerful speech. Oliver is a Seattle-based creative, community organizer, abolitionist, educator, and attorney who ran for Mayor of Seattle in 2017. In her speech, Oliver encouraged students to continue striving to meet their goals, even when others might say they can’t or shouldn’t.  She reminded students that adversity will come their way, but to be ready to rise up and overcome. The students were all respectful and attentive—it was clear her message resonated.

After Ms. Oliver’s speech, students broke into smaller groups to meet with panels of professionals of color. The panel Amanda attended hosted a trial lawyer who earned his degree at a historically black college and is now the Executive Director of a civil legal aid nonprofit, a bilingual outreach coordinator who grew up in a Spanish speaking country, and an employee of the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office.

Students were embraced for their individual goals and talents and encouraged to build positive relationships with mentors.  Being introduced to professionals of color they can look to as role models, students were challenged to learn about various career options, encouraged to dream big, and realize their purpose, passion, and power.

It was an honor and a privilege to bear witness to such a powerful, empowering event. North Sound ACH looks forward to continuing to support this work; we hope to see this model of community building, collaboration and focus on equity embraced region-wide.

To learn more about the history of the Students of Color Career Conference, you can visit their website here.

New Toll-free Number

With equity and targeted universalism guiding our work, one of our top priorities is ensuring all community members can access the services they need without encountering financial or other barriers. Even within the same area code, some people calling from landlines may face long distance charges. Community members who are reliant on phone calling cards may face similar barriers.

This is why we have required our partners to have a toll-free number, and now offer one for our organization as well.  We hope to eliminate whatever barriers we can to access, and while this step is a simple one, we recognize its importance.

We can now be contacted at  (888) 438-7330 toll-free, as well as our original office number of (360) 543-8858.

Funding Opportunities from HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

The Health Resources & Services Administration’s (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy recently shared the following funding opportunities which are relevant to the Medicaid Transformation Project:

DOL Employment and Training for Re-entry – Application due April 25.  The Department of Labor (DOL) will make 21 awards totaling $82.5 million to help formerly-incarcerated individuals successfully make transition back to the community.  All eligible applicants must be organizations with IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit status, including women’s and minority organizations; state or local governments; or any Indian and Native American entity eligible for grants under section 166 of the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Grant.

DOJ:  Building Capacity for Tribal Researchers – Application due May 13.  The Department of Justice (DOJ) will make five awards for total funding of $500,000.  The investment will provide planning grants to state, local, or tribal governments, as well as nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher learning to develop proposals for research projects that improve criminal justice in tribal communities. In addition, the DOJ will invest $4 million in Tribal Justice Technical Assistance – Due May 14 to develop strategies to address violent crime and crimes related to substance abuse and other controlled substances.   

HRSA: Enhancing Oral Health Infrastructure in Health Centers – Application due May 21.  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will invest $76 million in existing health centers to increase access to new or enhanced high-quality, integrated oral health services, including those provided via telehealth and virtual dentistry.  Of the more than 27 million people nationwide who rely on HRSA-funded health centers, one in five are rural residents.  Rural communities often lack adequate oral healthcare, though the regular preventive care of the teeth and gums is important in maintaining overall health, playing a role in preventing diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

HRSA: Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies – Application due May 24. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will invest $1.8 million in three health networks to test models that improve obstetrics services in rural areas.  For the purposes of this program, the applicant must have a network composition that includes: 1) at least two rural hospitals or Critical Access Hospitals; 2) at least one Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) or FQHC look-alike; 3) state Home Visiting and Healthy Start Programs, if regionally available; and 4) the state Medicaid agency.  For more information, contact RMOMS@hrsa.gov.

Visit HRSA’s grants page to learn more and see other funding opportunities.