Center for Health Equity Newsletter - November 2016 - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Center for Health Equity Newsletter
November 2016

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In this newsletter:
Greetings from the Center for Health Equity
Using a data-driven pilot program to identify inequities
Advancing Health Equity: A new grant with a new strategy
CHE announces 32 Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative grantees
CHE Staff Spotlight

Greetings from the Center for Health Equity

The Center for Health Equity is thrilled to share the first edition of the quarterly Center for Health Equity Newsletter. As many may know, the center has had several staff changes and additions recently, including the departure of center director ThaoMee Xiong. We thank ThaoMee for her many contributions and wish her well in her future endeavors. MDH has started the process of finding a new director, and in the interim MDH international health coordinator and assistant section manager Sara Chute is serving as acting director of the center. Sara has worked at MDH for more than 10 years, most closely overseeing the work of the Refugee and International Health Program. In addition to Sara’s arrival, the Center for Health Equity has added several other staff to accelerate the work of advancing health equity: grant managers Asma Bulale, Bridget Roby, and Mohamed Hassan, and community engagement planner Helen Jackson Lockett-El. As the center continues to grow into the vision set out for it, we look forward to sharing updates with you quarterly through this newsletter.

Using a data-driven pilot program to identify inequities

As a data resource and technical advisor for the Center for Health Statistics at the Minnesota Department of Health, Ann Kinney knows a lot about the power of data. In our fact-finding, statistics-seeking society, data often provide the “proof” and the “truth” that we use to understand our world. They guide our assumptions, and they answer our questions. However, data has traditionally been an underutilized tool in combating health inequities.

In April 2016, Kinney and her colleagues published Using Data to Identify Health Inequities: A Guide for Local Health Departments in Minnesota. With an expanding understanding of what creates health in the state, the Guide speaks to the need to develop a new approach for using data to address health inequities. The Guide centers on the idea that health is complex and influenced by many intersecting individual, social, cultural and structural factors. Moving beyond the analysis of individual disease, injury outcomes, health behaviors and access to health care, the Guide proposes that research and data can be used to move our understanding of health “upstream.”

By analyzing statistical differences in health among population groups rather than among individuals, data can help public health officials identify inequities and uncover the root causes of these differences. The Data Guide for Local Health Departments leads public health workers through gathering information at each of these intersecting levels in order to identify disparities, investigate different causes of health inequities and ultimately use this data as evidence for enacting policy change.

Piloting the guide

But does this new approach really work in measuring and advancing health equity? Could public health departments and other organizations reasonably follow the steps outlined in the Guide? Kinney knew that to be sure, they needed to gather data on this data-gathering tool itself. Fortunately, the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) had expressed interest in piloting the Guide with some of its grantees, and the Center for Health Statistics agreed to support the project. Twenty-one of the total 41 SHIP grantees applied to participate in the pilot project, and 10 were selected.

In June 2016, the participating grantees began collecting data. Local health departments and the Center for Health Statistics were able to supply a wealth of quantitative survey data, which helped grantees identify initial health differences and inequities within their communities. From there, the grantees were responsible for gathering qualitative data. Reaching out into their communities, SHIP representatives attempted to assess the impact and underlying causes of health inequities. Many grantees are still gathering data, but the pilot is expected to conclude before the end of the year.

Looking to the future

In order to make the Guide a success, Kinney said public health officials can’t do this work alone – community partnerships and input are necessary in working toward a healthier and more equitable Minnesota. “The intent for this Guide is to ultimately move beyond individual explanations and toward structural explanations for why there are differences in health,” she said. “This is a microcosm of what we need to do in order to advance health equity. Data provide the evidence that health inequities exist. From there, we need to make sure that our community partners and important people see these inequities, and then have the political will to do something about it.”

For more information about how to use data to identify health equities, or to read the Guide, see Using Data to Identify Health Inequities.

Meet Ann Kinney
Data resource and technical advisor in the Center for Health Statistics

Ann Kinney has worked for the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) for 22 years, and she is passionate about using data to craft impactful strategies and stories. As a member of the interagency research team, Ann helps oversee the administration of the Minnesota Student Survey. She enjoys serving as a resource for local public health departments and MDH and hopes her work helps to make their jobs a little easier.
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Advancing Health Equity: A new grant with a new strategy

Neighborhood Hub and Voices for Racial Justice logos

Acknowledging that one’s health is impacted by more than individual behaviors and decisions, the Advancing Health Equity (AHE) grant initiative seeks to assist community organizations in tackling some of the structural and systemic factors that affect health. Unlike many other initiatives that seek to change health on the individual or community level, AHE grant dollars are used to support projects that address measurable health inequities, identify the social and economic conditions that contribute to these inequities and develop plans to address and improve these conditions. For instance, AHE grantees may choose to focus on addressing issues and inequities related to safety, housing, transportation, education, systemic racism, or many other social determinants.

In 2016, the Center for Health Equity received 16 applications requesting a total of approximately $2.6 million in response to the AHE request for proposals. From this group, two grantees were selected to split the $350,000 available in funding: Neighborhood Hub and Voices for Racial Justice.    

Meet the AHE Grantees

Neighborhood Hub

For many African American families living in North Minneapolis, the Neighborhood Hub is a beacon of support. By providing a combination of direct service, educational opportunities, policy initiatives and resource referrals, the Hub is dedicated to helping families become stable, productive and healthy. In securing Advancing Health Equity funds, the Hub will continue to advance these goals and programs by addressing numerous health inequities related to housing, employment and community health supports in three North Minneapolis neighborhoods.

Through developing and promoting the “Extreme Health Makeover” marketing and community based strategy, this innovative program seeks to work with neighbors to identify the inequities that they see in their communities. From there, the Hub will bring together residents, community stakeholders and representatives from partnering agencies to collectively address how to move forward in creating positive changes in the community and home environments on a policy level.

Voices for Racial Justice

Although Minnesota has a relatively low incarceration rate compared to other states, it has one of the highest relative disparities of incarceration rates among its American Indian, African-American and white populations. With Advancing Health Equity funds, Voices for Racial Justice plans to target this inequity. Building on their mission to advance racial, cultural, social and economic justice in Minnesota, the nonprofit will investigate the intersection between incarceration and health in three greater Minnesota prisons.

Using a community-centered approach, Voices for Racial Justice will interview incarcerated individuals, their families, formerly incarcerated individuals, organizational partners and institutional stakeholders in order to explore the conditions that contribute to health disparities for incarcerated people. Working "upstream" on the social conditions that cause health inequities, Voices for Racial Justice will then develop an actionable plan to address health inequities within the criminal justice system.

The Center for Health Equity provides funding to community partners throughout Minnesota to help MDH in its goal to advance health equity across the state. This year, two grant requests for proposals were issued by the center: Advancing Health Equity and the Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative.
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CHE announces 32 Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative grantees

granteesEHDI grantees and the Center for Health Equity staff at the 2016 Community Health Conference

Grant dollars from the Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative (EHDI) fund community programs that work to improve the health status of people of color and American Indians. By focusing on one or more of eight priority health areas, (breast and cervical cancer screening, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, HIV/AIDS and STDs, immunizations for adults and children, unintentional injury and violence, teen pregnancy, and infant mortality), EHDI grantees provide a wide range of culturally appropriate programs to communities most impacted by health disparities in Minnesota.

Since its formation in 2001, EHDI has provided about $5 million annually to assist community partners in combating health disparities. In response to the 2015 request for proposals, the Center for Health Equity received 111 applications requesting more than $17.5 million. This year, the center named 32 grantees to share a pot of $5.142 million received from the state legislature and from federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds.

Meet two of the 32 EHDI Grantees!

American Indian Family Center
Wakanyeja Kin Wakan Pi (Our Children Are Sacred) Program

As a continuing EHDI grantee, the American Indian Family Center is using this round of EHDI funding to build on the Wakanyeja Kin Wakan Pi (Our Children Are Sacred) program – an initiative that addresses infant mortality in the American Indian community. African American and American Indian infants are more than twice as likely as white infants to die before their first birthday. By offering culturally specific parenting classes that embrace positive Indian parenting principles and promote healthy family dynamics, the Wakanyeja Kin Wakan Pi program seeks to address this disparity for women in Saint Paul and the East Metro. The program utilizes a comprehensive wrap-around model for American Indian women who are pregnant and/or parenting and works to ensure that pregnant American Indian women and their families have immediate access to specialized support.

Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servico (CLUES)
A Two-Generation Approach to Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servico (CLUES) is a new EHDI grantee, and they’re using new strategies to prevent teen pregnancy in the Latino community. Through their two-generation approach to teen pregnancy prevention, CLUES aims to target teens and their parents in order to improve the sexual health of Latino youth and work toward reducing teen pregnancy. By providing Latino adolescents with a six-week sexuality education course and engaging their parents as “sexuality educators,” CLUES provides Latino parents and teens with the tools and information they need to prevent teen pregnancy in their community.

For more information about EHDI, and to view the full list of EHDI grantees, visit the 2016-2017 EHDI Grantees page.

The Center for Health Equity provides funding to community partners throughout Minnesota to help MDH in its goal to advance health equity across the state. This year, two grant requests for proposals were issued by the center: Advancing Health Equity and the Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative.
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CHE Staff Spotlight

Asma Bulale and Bridget Roby

Asma Bulale and Bridget Roby

Bridget Roby (left) and Asma Bulale (right) work as grant managers for the Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative.

Asma Bulale
Grant Manager, Center for Health Equity

Asma Bulale has a master’s degree in public health from the University of Washington. Before coming to the Minnesota Department of Health, she worked for various public health organizations, including the Washington State Department of Health and King County Public Health in Seattle, Washington. Here in Minnesota, Asma also worked as the community engagement specialist for the Somali American Parent Association (SAPA). At SAPA, Asma helped Somali American parents learn how to get involved with their children’s schools and support their children’s academic success. She also helped to address the emerging needs and issues arising in the Somali community around mental health stigma, gaps in services and determining best practices for service providers.

Bridget Roby
Grant Manager, Center for Health Equity

Bridget Roby comes from a background in community health, communications and project management. Her passion for community development and social justice led her to serve in the Peace Corps for two years in Burkina Faso, West Africa, where she worked on issues such as malaria prevention, reproductive health and women’s empowerment. Before joining the Center for Health Equity team, Bridget worked as a health educator for the Minnesota Department of Health’s Newborn Screening Program and as a program assistant for the University of Minnesota’s Resilient Communities Project. She recently completed her master of public health in maternal and child health, with a focus on health disparities, at the University of Minnesota.

Updated Monday, 07-Aug-2017 14:13:08 CDT