Public Health Metrics

Whatcom Nurse-Family Partnership Program

Nurse-Family Parternship Number of Home Visits Annually

As part of a community wide effort to improve the health and well-being of Whatcom County children, the Whatcom Nurse-Family Partnership is a program that pairs a first-time pregnant woman with a public health nurse who regularly visits the home to support the family until the child is two years old. The program engages vulnerable first-time mothers to improve pregnancy outcomes, improve child health and development, and improve the economic self-sufficiency of the family. The Health Department began implementing the program in 2012.

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Click HERE for more information about the Whatcom Nurse-Family Partnership Program. 

Food Safety Program

 Number of Food Safety Inspections Annually
The Food Safety Program is responsible for permitting and inspecting retail food establishments in Whatcom County such as restaurants, caterers, grocery stores, school cafeterias and mobile food vendors. The Food Safety Program also permits and inspects farmer's markets, temporary food events and soup kitchens. 

Food safety is important to each member of our community. The CDC estimates that 48 million Americans get sick each year from food borne illnesses.

Whatcom County permits about 1300 permanent food establishments. Managers and food workers are trained to handle food safety and must pass the Washington State food worker training test. All food establishments must comply with the Washington State Retail Food Code.

Food establishment inspection results can now be viewed online at the Health Department Food Safety Inspection Reports Web Page.

In addition to routine inspections, the food safety program staff help to prevent food-borne illness in Whatcom County by:

  • Consulting with individuals who want to start a food business.
  • Investigating food-borne illness reports.
  • Investigating complaints about unsanitary conditions.
  • Teaching food workers, students, and community members about safe food handling.
  • Notifying food establishment operators about recalls affecting Washington State.
  • Monitoring recreational shellfish harvest sites and notifying the public if biotoxins rise to unsafe levels.

For Supporting Data Click HereExcel or PDF
Click HERE for more information about the Food Safety Program.

On-Site Sewage Systems

Number of OSS OM evaluations
Figure 1

OM evaluations Chart
Figure 2

Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD) has regulatory oversight for all on-site sewage systems (OSS) in Whatcom County.  There are over 28,000 OSS in our county.  Our goal is to promote a healthy environment by protecting Whatcom County’s surface and groundwater resources through the safe disposal and treatment of wastewater.  We perform a wide variety of activities to carry out this duty that include: permitting OSS for new/expanding construction, investigating complaints, reviewing land use permits and subdivisions, and licensing industry professionals. 

In addition to these activities, state and local regulations require homeowners assure a complete evaluation of their system every three years for gravity and annually for all other systems.  Proper operation, monitoring, and maintenance of systems can keep systems functioning correctly and reduce pollution to our waterways.  WCHD works with homeowners to replace their OSS when systems are found to be failing. 

WCHD is part of a county-wide effort to reduce fecal coliform bacteria in Whatcom County’s creeks and marine waters.  Portage Bay was designated a Marine Recovery Area (MRA) in 2015 due to water quality deterioration and shellfish harvesting closures.  Since then, WCHD has been prioritizing watershed management areas that drain into Portage Bay/Nooksack River with the highest levels of pollution.  By notifying homeowners of the requirement to have their OSS evaluated, more systems are being evaluated, maintained, and replaced as needed.  

Figure 2 illustrates the ratio of OSS that have a current evaluation.  This percentage has also increased over the last few years due to our efforts.  Since 2015, WCHD has notified property owners in the Lynden North, Ten Mile, Upper Mainstem and Lower Mainstem watersheds.**  WCHD is working towards ensuring that all OSS in the Portage Bay MRA/Nooksack watershed have been evaluated at least once by the end of the year.  We are working closely with industry professionals to build up capacity so that we can continue to increase the number of septic systems being evaluated routinely in order to prevent bacterial pollution to our waterways.            

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For more information please see the On-Site Sewage System Maintenance & Operations page.

Developmental Disabilities Program

Development Disabilities Employment programs

Employment offers all people, with or without disabilities, a pathway out of poverty and opportunities for contribution and social connection. Pathways to Employment services through the county assists adults with developmental disabilities to obtain and maintain work within typical community business and industry settings. Funding and eligibility for services is through the Department of Social and Health Services/ Developmental Disabilities of Administration. 

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For more information please see the Developmental Disabilities Program Page.

Behavioral Health Sales Tax Fund

Behavioral Health Tax Fund with Table

The vision and goal of the behavioral health tax fund is to develop a comprehensive infrastructure of behavioral health care to provide effective recovery oriented services in the community and provide interventions that divert individuals with behavioral health from the criminal justice system to more appropriate options of care. 

The behavioral health sales tax fund is used to support programs within the community that provide a wide variety of services.  Programs and services that receive funding range from substance abuse prevention and mental health promotion to housing support services and therapeutic court programs.  Other services supported by the fund include the jail behavioral health and reentry program, juvenile court services, and community mental health services for individuals that would otherwise not have access to the support.    

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For more information please see the Behavioral / Mental Health Program page