Think Cultural Health News

Advancing Health Equity at Every Point of Contact

February 2013

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Greetings from the Center for Linguistic and Cultural Competence in Health Care (CLCCHC) at the HHS Office of Minority Health!

We are excited to announce the appointment of J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE, as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and the Director of the HHS Office of Minority Health. The Assistant Secretary for Health, Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH, notes that "Dr. Gracia's appointment to lead the HHS Office of Minority Health reinforces the department's commitment to eliminate health disparities and to create a health care system that is accessible and affordable to all... Nadine brings to this position a wealth of expertise as a clinician and in public health policy, and a deep-rooted commitment to public service." Welcome, Dr. Gracia!

In addition, Guadalupe Pacheco, MSW, has retired from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Pacheco served as the Project Officer for the Think Cultural Health project. The following message is from Mr. Pacheco: "It has been both an honor and a privilege to work with you over these many years. The many successes enjoyed by these entities are due in no small part to your continued interest and dedication to the fields of cultural and linguistic competence. I will be forever grateful." Thank you for your many years of service, Mr. Pacheco.

Christine Montgomery is the new Project Officer for Think Cultural Health. Welcome, Ms. Montgomery!

The Eighth National Conference on Quality Health Care for Culturally Diverse Populations

The Eighth National Conference on Quality Health Care for Culturally Diverse Populations: Achieving Equity in an Era of Innovation and Health System Transformation will take place in Oakland, California on March 11-14, 2013.

This conference series, ongoing since 1998, provides a national forum for discussing a wide variety of issues related to cultural and linguistic competency and the advancement of health equity. The conference aims to improve access to and quality of health care for culturally and linguistically diverse individuals and communities, and to reduce health disparities and enhance well-being for these populations. The conference offers opportunities for an interdisciplinary audience to interact, learn, debate, and discuss the importance of cultural and linguistic competency.

Dr. Gracia, Director of the HHS Office of Minority Health, will deliver a plenary address. In addition, the CLCCHC team will present on cultural competence and Think Cultural Health. Check out the meeting agenda here!

Promotores de Salud, Food Security, and the Latino Community: A Partnership between the HHS Office of Minority Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture

In 2008, an average of 15% of households in the United States reported being food insecure at some point during the year. During that same period, the rate of food insecurity among Latino households was over 25%. This is twice the rate for White, non-Hispanic households. Having access to food is a vital component to receiving the proper nutrition that is essential to maintaining good overall health.

One strategy to help improve food insecurity status in Latino communities is USDA’s Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP - also known as the Food Stamps program). It helps low-income individuals and families access healthy food through monthly benefits. However, Latino households are significantly less likely to utilize federal assistance programs such as SNAP. Factors such as language and culture can influence a community’s acceptance of assistance.

Given the shared language and cultural perspectives, promotores de salud (community health workers) are uniquely qualified to do outreach around nutrition education and nutrition assistance programs in Latino communities. Promotores are able to bridge cultural and linguistic divides between community members and health or social service systems. They are trusted messengers who have unparalleled access to the Latino communities that are experiencing some of the worst, but also most preventable, disparities in nutrition status.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has partnered with the HHS Office of Minority Health to sponsor development of an e-learning curriculum for promotores. The curriculum is an example of the cross-agency collaboration that is necessary to reduce health disparities. Further, this initiative pioneers the development of training and resources for promotores in an online space using an innovative approach.

The e-learning program aims to help improve the overall health of Latino community members and reduce disparities by training promotores in strategies to share essential nutrition education and to increase access to federally funded nutrition assistance programs, including SNAP. Please stay tuned for updates!

State of Urban Health

The National Urban League Policy Institute has released a report entitled State of Urban Health: Eliminating Health Disparities to Save Lives and Cut Costs, which makes the case for allocating financial resources to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health.

The report emphasizes that while addressing health disparities does cost money, the effort to do so will save money in the end, given the economic burden of high healthcare costs, excess morbidity and mortality, and lost workforce productivity. The report argues that addressing health disparities is not only a moral imperative, but also a fiscally responsible one.

The report identified several policy recommendations for achieving the reduction of health disparities. A summary of the recommended policy priorities follows:

Medicare & Medicaid

  1. Protect Medicare in the budget
  2. Cost controls must protect dual eligible patients
  3. Incentivize Medicaid expansion for all States

Health Insurance Exchanges

  1. Clear and accessible enrollment process
  2. Enrollment campaigns targeting minorities
  3. Integration and automatic enrollment

Engaging Community-Based Organizations (CBOs)

  1. CBOs as patient navigators
  2. Priority for community transformation grants with racial and ethnic interventions
  3. Reduce costs through integration of services

Healthcare Workforce

  1. Increase minority health professionals
  2. Fully fund Community Health Worker programs
  3. Job training programs for health professions

Data Collection & Reporting

  1. Consistent collection of minority health data

What Are We Up To?

We invite you to stop by and see us at the following events:

  • Quality Health Care for Culturally Diverse Populations Conference; March 11-14, 2013; Oakland, California
  • American Dental Education Association Annual Session; March 16-18, 2013; Seattle, Washington
  • American Association of Community Dental Programs; April 21, 2013; Huntsville, Alabama
  • American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine; April 24-27, 2013; Baltimore, Maryland

Have an event you'd like to share with the TCH team and other members of the CLCCHC? Submit the event to our Community Calendar.