Think Cultural Health News

Advancing Health Equity at Every Point of Contact

February 2012

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Greetings from the Center for Linguistic and Cultural Competence in Health Care (CLCCHC) at the HHS Office of Minority Health! I would like to introduce the Office of Minority Health’s new Acting Director, Dr. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE.

A pediatrician with epidemiology training, Dr. Gracia has served in academic medicine and government. From 2009 to 2011, she was the Chief Medical Officer for the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH). She provided programmatic and policy leadership and coordination of a portfolio that included child and adolescent health, climate change, disaster preparedness, environmental health, global health, Haiti recovery, and the White House Council on Women and Girls.

Dr. Gracia is an advocate for minority and vulnerable populations and lectures nationwide on health disparities and children's health. We are very excited to have her leading the efforts here at the Office of Minority Health.

In Spring 2012, we will publish the enhanced National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care. The enhanced National CLAS Standards will be accompanied by a user-friendly implementation guidance document, which will provide information and strategies to help individuals and organizations adopt the Standards. We are looking forward to sharing with you the culmination of this two-year effort to update the National CLAS Standards!


Guadalupe Pacheco, MSW
Senior Health Advisor to the Director
Office of Minority Health, Office of the Assistant Secretary
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Turns Two

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is making important strides in advancing health equity and improving the quality of services to diverse communities.

In January, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated, "As a department, we are committed to ensuring that all Americans achieve health equity by eliminating disparities and doing what we can to improve the health of all groups, including the poor and underserved."

"One of the most important ways we are doing this is through our new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, which will expand health coverage to 34 million Americans, prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions, and bring new funding to community health centers, an important safety net for vulnerable populations."

As part of the Affordable Care Act’s requirements, the Department of Health and Human Services has released standards to measure race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, and disability status, thereby improving the ability to highlight disparities in health status and target interventions to reduce these disparities. Making data standards consistent will help identify the significant health differences that often exist between and within groups, particularly among Asian, Hispanic/Latino and Pacific Islander populations.

"It is our job to get a better understanding of why disparities occur and how to eliminate them. Improving the breadth and quality of our data collection and analysis on key areas, like race, ethnicity, sex, primary language and disability status, is critical to better understanding who we are serving," Secretary Sebelius said. "Through these new standards, we are providing a new set of powerful tools to help us achieve our vision of a nation free of disparities in health and health care."

Think Cultural Health Wins Online Learning Award

Think Cultural Health has been recognized by the MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) Health Sciences Editorial Board as a recipient of the MERLOT Award for Exemplary Online Learning Resources – MERLOT Classics 2012. The MERLOT Awards recognizes and promotes outstanding online resources designed to enhance teaching and learning.

MERLOT is a free and open online community of resources designed primarily for faculty, staff and students of higher education from around the world to share their learning materials and pedagogy. MERLOT is a leading edge, user-centered, collection of peer reviewed higher education, online learning materials, catalogued by registered members and a set of faculty development support services.

MERLOT's strategic goal is to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning by increasing the quantity and quality of peer reviewed online learning materials that can be easily incorporated into faculty designed courses.

The Merlot Award will be presented at the 5th Annual International Symposium for Emerging Technologies for Online Learning in July 2012. For more information on the symposium, please visit

HHS Initiatives for Spanish-speaking Individuals

Hispanics/Latinos, who account for 15 percent of the U.S. population, are often more likely than whites to experience poor health outcomes. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers several resources to assist Spanish-speaking individuals understand and improve their health. is a government Web site that offers information and tools in Spanish to help individuals and their loved ones stay healthy. It has resources on a wide range of health topics selected from over 1,600 government and non-profit organizations to bring individuals the best, most reliable health information on the Internet. It also uses social media to connect individuals with other people and organizations that can help them live a healthier life.

Conozca las preguntas ("Know the questions") is a multimedia Spanish-language campaign from the HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Ad Council. It encourages Hispanics/Latinos to get more involved in their health care and to talk with their doctors about their medical concerns. The national public service advertising campaign offers tips to help Hispanics prepare for medical appointments by thinking ahead of time about questions to ask their doctors during medical appointments. At AHRQ's Conozca las preguntas Web site, individuals can find tips and other important health information in Spanish.

In addition, AHRQ is partnering with Hispanic-serving organizations to promote its Spanish-language resources and to encourage consumers to become more active partners in their health care. AHRQ's easy-to-read resources help consumers understand the benefits and risks of treatment options and encourage shared decisionmaking between patients and their health care teams. To date, 10 organizations have signed a pledge of commitment to promote AHRQ's Spanish-language, evidence-based resources.

What Are We Up To?

This spring, we will unveil the enhanced National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care with a press conference! We will let you know the details as they are finalized.

We’ll also be busy presenting on the National CLAS Standards Enhancement Initiative to professional organizations. We invite you to stop by and see us at the following events:

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