Reducing Health Disparities

It’s been a busy year for Health Forward and our grantees. Before we bid farewell to an eventful year, our Health Forward associates take a look back at significant events and projects that helped make 2012 a productive year.

On day nine of our year in review, Health Forward Program Officer Adriana Pecina takes a look back at the numerous programs and organizations working to reduce health disparities.

“Even when we interact daily with people of other ethnic groups, we rarely talk about racial or socio-economic issues. It seems too scary to people. But we must start doing it! We have to break down the barriers between us and talk openly, honestly, and with respect. The rewards far outweigh any concerns we may have.”

~Sue Alperin

While there are many barriers that impact health in our region, I consider myself privileged this year to have worked on addressing the lack of diversity in our health care workforce, the inadequate system of care to meet the needs of diverse patient populations and the poor communications between providers and patients.

Since 2010, we’ve partnered with the REACH Healthcare Foundation and the Jackson County Community Mental Health Fund to provide customized, cultural competency technical assistance to organizations and institutions in our service area. These organizations include:

Cabot Westside Health Center
Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas
Child Abuse Prevention Association
Children’s Therapeutic Learning Center
Cornerstones of Care
El Centro, Inc.
Hope House
Jackson County Mental Health Levy Fund
Johnson County Mental Health Center
KidsTLC, Inc.
Mattie Rhodes
Metropolitan Community Colleges
Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault
Niles Home for Children
Operation Breakthrough, Inc.
Pathways Community Behavioral Healthcare
ReStart, Inc.
Rose Brooks Center, Inc.
The Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics
The Children’s Place
University of Kansas School of Medicine
The Cultural Competency Initiative aims to reduce health disparities by preparing organizations and their staff to meet the health needs of racially, ethnically and culturally diverse populations. The initiative focuses on organizational policies, practices and other infrastructural changes that can positively influence delivery of care.

The following are just a few examples of changes that have been made as a result of participating in the Cultural Competency Initiative:

A social service organization has adopted a “Diversity and Inclusion Policy Recommendations” and is further integrating cultural competency definition and materials into brochures, website, theory of change, strategic plan, etc.
A community-based organization completely revised its five-year strategic plan, incorporating cultural competency and inclusion throughout and adopted unanimously
An institution has revised its mission statement to more closely reflect its cultural competency definition.
A residential treatment facility revised its clinical assessment process to align with its cultural competency definition.
The Initiative works with organizations to prepare them to effectively respond to the ever-changing diversity of the people they employ and serve. The recipients of the technical assistance have described the experience as:

“a mechanism to open communication around barriers and cultural issues both internal and external to the organization.”
“an effort that transforms lives of individuals and their organizations!”
“a personal journey as well as an organizational…it’s not a checklist.
“It creates the ability to have a safe and secure environment to discuss challenging issues.”
As we end 2012, I would like to take a moment to recognize these organizations that have taken that major step of self-reflection that will lead to improved quality of services and health outcomes. These organizations are truly committed to eliminating barriers and promote quality health for uninsured and underserved in our service area!

Health Reform

Health Forward Foundation
2300 Main Street, Suite 304
Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 241-7006