Blog: National Partnership for Action
Posted on 4/11/2014 by Rebecca Hohmann
It’s a banner year for the Public Library Association (PLA), which marked its 70th anniversary and kicked off its biennial conference on March 11, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The week-long conference, one of the largest conferences dedicated to public library professionals, featured more than 150 programs; special author events, including a closing session with New York Times best seller David Sedaris; and nearly 400 exhibits.
The Office of Minority Health Resource Center (OMHRC) exhibit booth was a popular destination for public library professionals, with almost 200 conference attendees stopping by to pick up hundreds of free brochures, bookmarks, and information resources. In-demand items included multilingual resources from the Knowledge Center, which library professionals can use to support local community outreach programs, and OMHRC’s information line at 800-444-6472, where callers can receive customized information searches on such topics as health insurance and the Affordable Care Act. The exhibit also featured an electronic display, which showcased more in-depth information about the office, its online library catalog, and its many resources and services. The booth was staffed by Faye Williams, Knowledge Center Manager, and Rebecca Hohmann, Digital Access Librarian, who were on hand to welcome visitors from across the country.
According to national data from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, public libraries served nearly 300 million people throughout the United States in FY2011. And with nearly 8,000 attendees, the PLA 2014 Conference proved to be a great way for OMHRC to connect with more public library professionals than ever before.
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Posted on 4/1/2014 by Amirah Abdullah
Imagine that your state was handed a report card that graded the health of residents. Do you think that your community would score an A+, or come close to failing? Do all population groups in your state have equal access to health care, culturally competent services, and nutritious foods?
These are the questions that the Southeastern Health Equity Council (SHEC) sought to answer by developing a health equity report card for the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. These states comprise diverse populations, with some groups demonstrating an increased risk of adverse health outcomes and many residing in rural locations that restrict access to care. This situation diminishes the region’s potential for economic and social advancement. The SHEC embraces a data-informed approach to change the social determinants that reinforce health disparities.
The report card assigns grades to regional health care access, healthy food access, cultural competence, and related health outcomes. The SHEC defined a grading system that compares each data point to benchmarks such as Healthy People 2020 and national averages, broken down by race, ethnicity, gender, urban/rural location, disability, and sexual orientation. This document also establishes a benchmark to measure progress and calls attention to gaps in data collection and public reporting.
Some of the key findings are:
· Insurance rates among racial and ethnic minorities in the Southeast are lower than the national average. Individuals with health insurance have more access to medical care.
· All Southeastern states scored an “F” in food security and had poor consumption of fruits, physical activity, obesity rates and diabetes rates.
· No state in the Southeast currently requires culturally competency education for healthcare professionals. Culturally competent health care is one important way to ensure people receive the appropriate level of care within the health system.
The health equity report card highlights key areas of consideration for policy efforts related to how the physical environment, food choices, and health behaviors affect an individuals’ lifespan. Implications of the SHEC’s findings for policy and practice include 1) the need for Medicaid expansion, 2) the need to have food-financing programs at the state and regional level, and 3) the need for requirements for cultural competency education among health care professionals.
As a next step, the SHEC will use this report card to educate state and local policy makers as well as other health care colleagues, sharing recommendations that will improve healthy food choices, enhance health care access and promote well-being.
The SHEC will kick off this effort with a webinar that reviews the report card’s key findings, implications for practice in the Southeastern region, and ways to take action in your community and state. Please register here to participate in the webinar, ‘Making the Grade: The Southeastern Health Equity Report Card’ at 2:00pm EST on April 23, 2014. Join us to make the states in the Southeast – and across the U.S. - a healthier place to live.
To view the report card, to learn more on the efforts of the SHEC to improve health equity, and to sign up for the SHEC email listserv, visit our website.
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Posted on 3/11/2014 by Kathleen Sebelius
Women’s History Month reminds us to pay tribute to the generations of women who have contributed to the growth of our nation, in public and private life. As we celebrate Women’s History Month and recognize the extraordinary achievements women have made throughout history, I’d also like to reflect on the accomplishments the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has made over the last year to improve the lives of women and girls.
As you can see, it’s been a busy but exciting year — and these are just our top five highlights in women’s and girls’ health! I look forward to continuing our momentum as champions for the wellbeing of all Americans. Learn more about how we’re expanding access to quality care by visiting HealthCare.gov.
Kathleen Sebelius is the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
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Posted on 3/10/2014 by By Leandris Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA
“In short, we urge the nation’s leaders to embrace the idea that an economically vibrant and sustainable American future depends, almost wholly, on a broader vision for equity, one that recognizes that lifting up the least of us will lift up all of us.” Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future; Blackwell, Kwoh, Pastor; 2010.
At CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE), we are winding up the celebration of our 25th anniversary. The centerpiece of our celebration has been an exhibit at CDC’s David J. Sencer Museum titled “Health Is a Human Right: Race and Place in America.” The exhibit was designed to “show the faces” behind the data, contextualize health disparities within community-driven social movements and the social determinants of health1, and highlight strategic federal initiatives implemented to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities over the past 120 years.
Since its opening at the end of September 2013, more than 21,000 people have visited the exhibit. Through the exhibit, we attempt to share some of the histories of African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, and Native Hawaiians & Other Pacific Islanders, and selected events that contributed to the historical patterning of health disparities in communities of color. There are examples of community interventions and policy initiatives that have contributed to better health outcomes in these communities. Yet, as the exhibit demonstrates, good health is not achieved in a vacuum. Read the full post on the Conversations in Equity blog.
Short blurb for the blog home page: At CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE), we are winding up the celebration of our 25th anniversary. The centerpiece of our celebration has been an exhibit at CDC’s David J. Sencer Museum titled “Health Is a Human Right: Race and Place in America.”
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Posted on 1/15/2014 by Sheila L. Thorne,Region II Health Equity Council
On an icy and snowy Tuesday morning, it took me two hours to get to the Delaney Hall Detention Facility, a halfway house in Newark, New Jersey located next to the Essex County jail on Doremus Street. I was invited by Councilwoman Mary Am Bey of Newark’s West Ward to present information on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at Delaney Hall, where approximately 1,250 low-level, non-violent offenders begin the process of reintegration back into society.
I agreed to speak with this group, understanding that marginalized populations - including those who were previously incarcerated - are often the last to receive education and information about services that are available to them.
I passed through a rigorous security process at Delaney Hall: I got clearance to bring in my laptop and LCD projector for the PowerPoint presentation, gave up my ID, cell phone and charger, and was escorted by several officers into a large conference room.
The doors opened to a huge group of 300 men transitioning out of the prison system, ranging in age from early twenties to 50+ and including a smattering of veterans. As I set up, you could hear a pin drop. Councilwoman Bey introduced me and I began my psentation to the attentive crowd, making a few initial jokes to break the ice.
To my surprise and delight, the next two and a half hours were filled with jokes, laughter and excellent questions – the time passed quickly! It was no surprise that the majority of those in attendance were African American and Hispanic; both population groups are incarcerated at seven and three times the rate of Whites respectively. Most didn't know anything about the ACA, and by a show of hands, some had never heard of it. Participants even took notes and wrote on the few brochures that I had.
They were polite, friendly, and funny; giving me two standing ovations and telling me “thank you” and “God bless you” out of gratitude for the information. Many stayed behind and asked how they could get this information to their families, girlfriends, wives, brothers, sisters, and the mothers of their children. Many of the men expressed strong interest in information about their children’s eligibility for affordable health insurance under the ACA--especially pediatric dental care for those eligible under private plans.
The word spread quickly about my presentation – before leaving I was approached by others who heard that the presentation was really good and wanted to learn about the ACA. Councilwoman Bey asked me to come back to speak to another group of the same size in January. I am currently working with her to schedule a longer session with this next group. I also plan on bringing navigators with me who would be prepared to enroll on site, particularly for Medicaid.
As I made my way home in the snow, I reflected on the importance of educating re-entry populations about health care. Of the two million Americans who are serving time in prison, sixteen percent have a mental illness and three out of four have substance abuse problems. There is a need for returning citizens to continue treatment for conditions such as substance abuse that may otherwise trigger the same behavior that sent them to prison in the first place and increase recidivism.
Our returning neighbors and community members currently lack access to health care information. A handful of communities in each state receive the majority of returnees from the correctional system, constituting a specific need for health care education among re-entry populations. For example, a recent report by the Re-Entry Policy Council states that15% of neighborhoods in Baltimore receive 56% of the people released from Maryland state prisons.
Many are unaware that they may now meet eligibility requirements for care as a result of Medicaid expansion. Beginning in 2014, Medicaid will cover treatment for mental illness and substance abuse, which will benefit many individuals transitioning out of the prison system.
I invite other advocates to join me in educating our returning community members, leveraging connections with the faith community and elected officials to plan and conduct outreach sessions. It is critical that we continue providing education about the ACA to this population so that they are able to access affordable treatment and re-enter their communities with one less barrier on the road to success.
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The NPA works to achieve health equity -- the highest level of health for all people. This blog is a venue for professionals from all fields and sectors to share their thoughts on pressing issues, news and events pertaining to health equity. Follow and participate in this candid discussion.
Recent Blog Posts
→ Changing the Prognosis for Sickle Cell Disease through the Affordable Care Act
→ Winning the battle against health disparities through new technology
→ Improving Data Collection on Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Health
→ 2013 Report to Congress on Minority Health Activities
→ The Celebration Continues: Three Kings Day and the Health Insurance Marketplace