Think Cultural Health News

Bridging the Health Care Gap Through Cultural Competency Continuing Education Programs

August 2010

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As our program participation continues to grow, with participants often indicating that they heard about Think Cultural Health through word-of-mouth, it is clear that our success is largely due to the support of you and your colleagues’ dedication to the reduction of racial and ethnic health disparities through cultural and linguistic competency. I want to take a moment and say “Thank You” for your continued support of Think Cultural Health and our cultural competency e-learning programs and resources. Without your continued support, we could not be where we are today. We appreciate your taking the time to tell your colleagues about the resources available at Together, we can help eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities.


Guadalupe Pacheco, MSW
Special Assistant to the Secretary
Office of Minority Health, Health and Human Services

10 Years of CLAS!

The National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health Care (known as the CLAS Standards) turn ten this year. With the release of the CLAS Standards in 2000, the Office of Minority Health (OMH) provided the framework for all health care organizations to establish services and policies to best serve our increasingly diverse communities.

In the decade following the release of the CLAS Standards, the field of cultural and linguistic competency has seen tremendous growth. It has evolved from a fledgling concept to a recognized intervention in the quest for health equity. Cultural and linguistic competency are “living” disciplines and as such require routine enhancement and nurturing. With this in mind, HHS OMH has recently begun to revisit the National CLAS Standards in order to expand their scope and improve their clarity to ensure universal understanding and implementation.

Starting in September 2010, the formal enhancement initiative will begin with the convening of a National Project Advisory Committee, followed by three regional meetings open to the public. During the fall of 2010, individuals and organizations will be encouraged to submit comments on the current CLAS Standards, and through public comment and meetings alike, revised National CLAS Standards will be born.

Be on the lookout for more information at

Oral Health Initiative

OMH is expanding Think Cultural Health and embarking on a new cultural competency initiative for oral health professionals. Oral health disparities in the United States drew National attention in 2000 with the publication of the first Surgeon General’s report on oral health. Despite efforts such as Healthy People 2010, these disparities are prevalent still today.

Oral health is a key component in an individual’s overall health status and can impact overall health in a variety of ways including influencing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Low percentages of minorities working as practicing dentists, the decline of minority enrollment in dental schools, and the cutting of funding to support many of the Federal scholarship programs for minority students applying to dental schools are all compounding problems contributing to the oral health of underserved and minority groups.

The OMH cultural competency oral health initiative will be evidence-based in nature, drawing its structure from needs assessment focus groups, extensive literature reviews and the input of experts in the field who will serve on a National Project Advisory Committee. For more information, visit for updates.

The National Consensus Panel on Diversity and Preparedness

Hurricane Katrina awakened a nation to the deep-rooted inequities in planning for and responding to public health emergencies. Racially/ethnically diverse populations suffer a disproportionate toll of injury, disease and death from emergency events. In recognition of this legacy, in November 2006, the HHS Office of Minority Health (HHS/OMH) provided support to Dr. Dennis Andrulis, currently a Senior Research Scientist at the Texas Health Institute, and his team, to convene for the first time a broad-based panel of experts to develop a unified voice and consensus-based guidance on integrating diverse populations in preparedness. The 34-member panel, known as the National Consensus Panel on Emergency Preparedness and Cultural Diversity, brought together diverse communities and leading national, state and local public/private organizations across the country. In June 2008, the panel released the nation’s first blueprint on diversity and preparedness—a national consensus statement and eight guiding principles for effectively engaging racially/ethnically diverse populations. Endorsed by leading agencies, this guidance has appeared in national and international publications, including Institute of Medicine’s 2009 Guidance for Establishing Crisis Standards of Care for Use in Disaster Situations.

Recognizing the importance for translating policy to action, with ongoing support from HHS/OMH, the panel has developed a first-of-a-kind, user-friendly toolkit which offers practical recommendations for operationalizing guiding principles to engage communities in planning, designing drills and communication strategies, delivering culturally/linguistically appropriate services, and in evaluating programs and actions. This tool will be released later this year, and will be previewed at upcoming national meetings, including the 2010 American Public Health Association Meeting.

For further information please contact Dr. Andrulis at

What Are We Up To?

  • DiversityRx National Conference on Quality Health Care for Culturally Diverse Populations in Baltimore, MD Oct 18-21, 2010
  • American Public Health Association Annual Conference in Denver, CO, Nov 6-10, 2010

The seventh national conference on Quality Health Care for Culturally Diverse Populations will be held in Baltimore, Maryland, October 18-21, 2010. The OMH and Think Cultural Health team will be in attendance, presenting on a variety of initiatives and topics, including the CLAS Standards, preliminary results from the evaluation of our disaster curriculum, and the impact of New Jersey’s legislative mandates on our Physician’s cultural competency program. This year’s conference theme is “Improving health care for culturally diverse populations: A new place on the national health agenda.” Dr. Howard Koh, the HHS Assistant Secretary for Health is scheduled to deliver the keynote address. We hope to see you there! For more information and to register visit

In early November, the Think Cultural Health team will be presenting at the APHA annual conference in Denver, CO. Stop by and see us for a presentation on the Health Care Language Services Implementation Guide, or for one of two poster presentations! For more information visit

Is there a specific conference or professional event you think the Think Cultural Health Team should attend and propose a presentation? Email us and let us know at