PACE EH Post Project Assessment of Quality of Life Changes in a Florida Community Related to Infrastructure Improvements

Journal of Environmental Health, June 2008 | Go to article overview

PACE EH Post Project Assessment of Quality of Life Changes in a Florida Community Related to Infrastructure Improvements


* The Indian River county health department, environmental health division (IRCHD EH) in Florida implemented the Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE EH) in the low-income community of West Wabasso, Florida in 2004--2006.

* Over two a and a half years, IRCHD EH worked with the community and various governmental agencies to bring much-needed improvements to the area.

* At the end of the program, a survey was conducted to discover if the residents' quality of life had increased due to the community's improvements.

* The survey results yielded high satisfaction rates among residents.

* The general response was that their feelings of safety and overall well-being--attributed to infrastructure improvements in their community--had increased significantly.

* An unforeseen benefit realized by all parties involved was as renewed trust in government.

* The majority of surveyed residents (91%) felt that governmental agencies were better able to respond to their issues.

* The Florida department of health's division of environmental health began a process in 2002 to adopt and use the National Association of County and City Health Officials' (NACCHO) Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE EH).

* Results from the pilot projects supported a strong need to refocus public health and assess the relationship to the built environment.

* In January 2004, Florida department of health's Indian River county health department, environmental health division (IRCHD EH) began implementing the PACE EH in the community of West Wabasso.

* This neighborhood of approximately 350 low-income minority residents is an island of poverty located in a very affluent county

* As part of the PACE EH process, an environmental health assessment was conducted in March and April 2004 by IRCHD EH to discover what issues West Wabasso residents identified within their community.

* Over a series of meetings, issues were discussed in detail and priorities identified for taking immediate action to remedy problem areas.

* The top five environmental health issues identified were lack of housing, safety from drug trafficking, street lighting, access to safe drinking water, and septic failures or lack of access to sewer.

* Partnerships were subsequently created with the director of community development, the county administrator, director of public works, county commissioners, and the sheriff of Indian River county to address identified issues.

* All parties involved in the PACE project learned that when a community identifies infrastructure as a problem, the solution is a holistic one that begins with local planners and health officials shaking hands.

* If this partnership can be strengthened, results will be realized because the validity can be established by both agencies.

* The following improvements have been brought to West Wabasso:

--removal of abandoned homes;

--establishment of bus routes;

--installation of streetlights, new septic systems, water mains, and connections;

--construction of new homes and sidewalks and repair of existing homes; and

--improvements to parks.

* The initial $30,000 grant provided by the Florida department of health to begin the PACE EH process in West Wabasso yielded over $1.5 million worth of improvements to the community.

* A survey was executed to measure not only the qualitative value of improvements made to West Wabasso, but also to quantify the results of two and a half years of PACE EH involvement.

* A total of 243 individuals completed the West Wabasso PACE project assessment survey.

* Sixty-six percent of those respondents had lived in the community for 25 years or more. …

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