King County Councilman Joe McDermott Highlights Public Health In Burien Talk
The Seattle/King County Board of Health is working “to make healthy choices become the easy choices,” King County District 8 Councilman Joe McDermott recently told Burien Lions Club members.
McDermott is also the new chairman of the county Board of Health. On the county council, he represents Burien, North Highline, West Seattle and Vashon.
He said the board’s goal is to reduce the occurrence of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes brought on by obesity and tobacco use, which affects people of color and low income persons at “rates two to three times higher” than the averages for the overall population.
These trends are especially high in South King County, McDermott added, also making the health of many south county residents a matter of “equities” when it comes to healthy food, clean air and exercise.
Zoning for “more parks, sidewalks, and bicycle and walking trails” is one way to reverse these demographics, he said.
And with people “eating more than half their meals outside the home, let’s make sure there are healthy options for eating out.”
With the “community putting prevention to work” society can “attack the root causes of health problems,” McDermott declared. But finding funds to do this is a problem.
Since voters statewide approved Initiative 695 11 years ago, limiting car license tab fees to $30, “there has been no replacement public health funding,” he said. Until then, a portion of car tab fees went to public health departments.
As county health board chairman, “I … advocate for both short-term and long-term funding. I am working with our legislators for a long-term plan” to increase funding for public health.
More money is needed for low-income immunization, health screening, maternity support services and nutritional programs “for healthy outcomes.”
If neighborhood public health clinics are forced to close from lack of funding, more people will be forced to go to – and overcrowd – hospital emergency departments, McDermott said.