Nebraska State Profile


Office of Minority Health and Health Equity
Prepared by National Association of State
Offices of Minority Health (NASOMH)
Josie Rodrigues, Admininstrator
 Office of Health Disparities and Health Equity
Nebraska Department of Health/Human Services
301 Centennial Mall South – PO Box 95026
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-1409
Fax: (402) 742-2342
Organizational Structure/History
Inceptional History
During the late 1980s, a Minority AIDS Task Force located in Lincoln, Nebraska was created to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and other general minority health issues. In 1991, the Nebraska Minority Health Coalition was created, made up of leadership from community-based organizations and minority advocacy groups. The coalition approached the Director of Health, Dr. Mark Horton, in late 1991 to indicate the need for a “Minority Health Office” in Nebraska. A “Minority Health Status Report,” published by the Nebraska Department of Health’s Bureau of Health Policy and Planning (1992), reinforced the need for and influenced the creation of a Minority Health Office. The basic message of the initial report and it subsequent updates, consistent with national studies, was that although Nebraska’s population as a whole was healthy, its racial ethnic minority populations were not. The health status of racial ethnic minority populations continues to be poor, and significant gaps still existed in the health status between white and nonwhite populations. Staffed by one person, Mr. Roméo Guerra, the Office of Minority Health was created in 1992.
In January 1997, a major reorganization within state government created three new agencies. At that time the Office of Minority Health (OMH) became one of several public health offices within the Nebraska Health and Human Services System. In 1997, the Office of Minority Health was staffed with an Administrator and an Administrative Assistant. 
Current Organizational Structure
In 2000, recognizing the need to build stronger health focused relationships with Nebraska’s four federally recognized tribes (the Omaha nation, the Winnebago nation, the Santee Sioux nation, and the Ponca nation), the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services authorized a new position within the Office: Native American Health Liaison. This statewide position honors the special nature of government-to-government relationships between Nebraska tribal nations as federal entities and the sovereignty of the American Indian tribes in Nebraska.
In June 2001, Nebraska’s unicameral state government passed Legislative Bill LB692, which expanded the Office of Minority Health to include two satellite offices. One is located in Congressional District 2 (Douglas County, Omaha, Nebraska), and the other is in Congressional District 3 (Hall County, Grand Island, Nebraska). The satellite offices, under the direction of the Central Office of Minority Health, coordinate with local and regional health agencies, other state agencies and organizations in efforts related to minority health activities; collect, evaluate and develop minority health data, develop and promote minority health training materials; and provide technical assistance and support to minority health grantees, community organizations, and projects which focus on the elimination of health disparities and the equalization of health outcomes for Nebraska’s racial ethnic minorities, Native Americans, newly-arrived immigrants and refugees. Satellite offices are dependent upon funding approval by the Unicameral every two years.
In 2006, a federal State Partnership Grant was awarded, which included funding for a Health Program Manager for Congressional District 1 for the first time. This was a state mandated position but remained an unfunded legislative mandate. Also, the Program Analyst position was reclassified to a Health Surveillance Specialist.
In 2007, the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity received an FTE position slot that was used for a second Administrative Assistant. This position was later classified mid 2008 as the FTE for a Community Health Educator III position for Congressional District 1.
Also, in 2008, the Health and Human Services System was again reorganized and the name changed to the Department of Health and Human Services. The office name was revised to the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity and is located within the Division of Public Health in the Community Health Planning Section.
In late 2008, the Nebraska OMH was awarded two pandemic influenza grants by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the 13 applications submitted by Nebraska entities, five were funded, and two of those were awarded to the Nebraska OMH – a feat unheard of to date. One of the pandemic influenza grants included funding for three part-time temporary staff, but no full-time or permanent staff.
Minority Health Council
A Statewide Minority Health Council was established and is comprised of up to 27 members who represent the different tribes, refugees, immigrants, and racial ethnic minority groups, health care occupations, and genders; they are from urban and rural settings and different geographical regions across the state. The council advises the Nebraska OMH on the current needs and issues affecting the health status of racial ethnic minorities in Nebraska and provides input to the areas of focus for the office. Two members of each congressional district steering committee are members and address specific concerns in their areas.
Purpose/Mission Statement
The mission of the office is to improve the health status of racial ethnic minorities, Native Americans, refugees, and newly-arrived immigrant groups in Nebraska. This is accomplished through: 
·     Monitoring health problems and hazards and advocating for health equity;
·     Increasing public awareness about health disparities through information, education and empowerment;
·     Improving access to health services;
·     Promoting and advocating for cultural awareness and competency in the healthcare workforce;
·     Monitoring, collecting, developing, and providing relevant statistical data to identify health status;
·     Reviewing, evaluating, and recommending policies and programs to assure effective access and culturally competent health services;
·     Increasing representation in science and health professions of racial and ethnic minorities, Native Americans, and refugees and newly arrived immigrants;
·     Promoting and mobilizing collaboration and partnerships among federal, regional and state agencies, and community organizations;
·     Expanding community-based health promotion and disease prevention outreach efforts; and
·     Developing grants and other resources.
Program Focus/Activities
Health Planning and Policy Development
Involves policy development and review, along with program assessment, to ensure a more positive impact on racial ethnic minorities. The Nebraska OMH conducts forums across the state of collect information, review the quality of service delivery, and determine needs of racial ethnic minority clients. In addition, Nebraska OMH hosts or sponsors conferences on various topics impacting racial ethnic minorities by focusing on health disparities such as substance abuse prevention and treatment; diabetes; cardiovascular disease; stroke; tobacco cessation; and MCH issues.
Technical Assistance and Training
Provides assistance to improve racial ethnic minority health services, cultural awareness/education, and reviewing grants. The administrator also has participated in numerous grant reviews and facilitated the development and submission of several applications proposals to state and federal agencies. Training on CLAS standards has also been offered to local health departments and their boards of health.
Health Initiatives/Programs/Services
Nebraska OMH is responsible for the oversight and monitoring of $1.58M for Minority Health Initiatives funded by the state, providing minority health services to counties in Congressional Districts 1 and 3 having or exceeding 5 percent population of racial ethnic minorities. There are currently 22 projects which focus on providing services and programs that assist the state in accomplishing Health People 2010 goals and objectives to increase the quality and years of healthy lift and to eliminate health disparities. Additionally, within Congressional District 2, $1.4M is distributed equally between federally qualified health care centers (FQHC) serving more than 75,000 racial ethnic minorities. 
Listed below are examples of health initiatives or programs conducted:
·          Minority Health Conference – held annually for 14 years;
·          Midwest Methamphetamine Conference – covering 6 states;
·          CLAS Missing Links Conference – series of 4 annual conferences with Region V Systems;
·          Minority Health Month – state proclamation supporting national initiative;
·          Take a Loved One to a Health Care Professional Day – national initiative;
·          Bi-National Health Week – national initiative;
·          Cultural Competency Curriculum developed to train internal DHHS staff, health providers and health workers;
·          Rural Pandemic Influenza grant and Tribal Public Engagement grant; and
·          Native American Public Health Act funding.
The State Partnership Grant enabled the Nebraska OMH to conduct a Public Health Policy Leadership Summit; offer mini-grants to community and faith-based organizations; host career fairs and lunch and learns; sponsor Native American focused projects; promote the Safe Sleep Initiative; assess the cultural competence of local health departments, DHHS and institutions of higher learning; support local Shadow a Health Professional Day; and conduct a consumer survey of local health departments on CLAS.
The Rural Pandemic Influenza (RPF) grant has enabled the Nebraska OMH to provide Pandemic Influenza 101 training to minority populations in 28 sites across the state. The project also includes funding for tabletop exercises and community meetings in each of those sites. After Action Reports are being compiled, and feedback from the minority communities will be incorporated into future emergency preparedness planning efforts.
The Pandemic Influenza Tribal Public Engagement grant (TPE) provides an opportunity to the four Tribes of Nebraska and two off-reservation American Indian communities to participate in the improvement of state and local health department pandemic influenza policy.  Each American Indian community builds from local informal community networks to identify key representatives to participate in public engagement forums to gather input on a pandemic policy issue of importance to all of the communities. State/local policy makers will have an opportunity to discuss the input with community representatives, and to explore possible policy changes, if any, that would be required to accommodate the factors identified by the communities.
Impact of Program Activities on Communities
            Program activities are delivered through population based services and studies through the local public health departments and community organizations, versus direct services. Emphasis is placed on awareness of cultural competency, language barriers, access to care, CLAS, and health disparities.
There are approximately 798,020 unduplicated contacts on a yearly basis. The Office works with 20 local health departments, 11 community health centers, and 87 hospitals.
The Office maintains a website page at
Eliminating Health Disparities Statewide Initiatives
The Minority Health Strategic Plan for Nebraska was developed by outside contractors based on community meetings and consultations with the Statewide Minority Health Council, the Nebraska Minority Public Health Association, Public Health Association of Nebraska, and Department of Health and Human Services staff.
Level of Funding Sources
MCH – Maternal Child Health/ Title V Block Grant
PHHS – Preventive Health and Human Services Block Grant
SPG – State Partnership Grant
RPF – Rural Pandemic Influenza Grant
TPE – Tribal Public Engagement Grant
GF – General Fund
MHI/FQHC – Minority Health Initiative funding, Federally Quality Health Centers
NAPHA – Native American Public Health Act
The Nebraska Office of Minority currently has nine professional staff and two administrative support positions. The Statewide Minority Health Advisory Committee has 21 members.
Staff for the Nebraska Office of Minority Health and Health Equity include:
Central Office – Lincoln , NE
Administrator, Raponzil Drake, DMin
Staff Assistant II, Cindy Harmon
Native American Health Liaison, Larry Voegele, BA
Health Surveillance Specialist, Anthony Zhang, MA
Research Assistant, Elice Hubbert (temporary)
Congressional District 1 – Lincoln , NE
Health Program Manager I, Diane Lowe, MAM
Community Health Educator II, Paul Letcher, BA (temporary)
Congressional District 1 – Hastings
Community Health Educator II – Pan Flu, Rosa Guia (temporary)
Congressional District 2 – Omaha , NE
Health Program Manager I, Stephen Jackson, MPH
Community Health Educator III, Demetria Geralds, BS
Staff Assistant II, Kathleen O’Connor, BA, BS (temporary)
Congressional District 3 – Grand Island , NE
Health Program Manger I, Maria Hines, MCP
Congressional District 3 – Gering , NE
Community Health Educator III, Dave Micheels, BS
Community Health Educator II – Pan Flu, Lisa Calihua (temporary)
Recent Publications
·         Cultural Competency Assessment of Health Care Providers across Nebraska: A Survey of Limited English Proficient (LEP) Individuals, April 2009 - 441KB
·         Report Card: Substance Abuse by Race/Ethnicity,March 2009 - 80KB
·         Report Card: Maternal Child Health by Race/Ethnicity, March 2009 - 83KB
·         The Socioeconomic Status of Nebraska Asians, November 2008 - 294KB
·         The Socioeconomic Status of Nebraska Black or African Americans, November 2008 - 293KB
·         The Socioeconomic Status of Nebraska Hispanics or Latinos,November 2008 - 301KB
·         Minority Behavioral Risk Factor Survey - Box Butte County, June 2006 - 349KB
·         Minority Behavioral Risk Factor Survey - Buffalo County, June 2006 - 342KB
·         Minority Behavioral Risk Factor Survey - Dawson County, June 2006 - 319KB
·         Minority Behavioral Risk Factor Survey - Knox County, June 2006 - 351KB
·         Minority Behavioral Risk Factor Survey - Lincoln County, June 2006 - 345KB
·         Minority Behavioral Risk Factor Survey - Platte County, June 2006 - 353KB
·         Minority Behavioral Risk Factor Survey - Scotts Bluff County, June 2006 - 348KB
·         Minority Behavioral Risk Factor Survey - Sheridan County, June 2006 - 316KB
·         Minority Behavior Risk Factor Survey - Sarpy County, March 31, 2005 - 823 KB
·         Minority Behavior Risk Factor Survey - Douglas County, March 31, 2005  - 963 KB
·         Interpreters Speak Out: Nebraska Language Access Survey, January, 2008 - 798KB
·         Reaching Racial/Ethnic Minorities with Health Education Needs Assessment Report
·         White paper
·         Strategic Plan of the Office of Minority Health