Oklahoma Office of Minority Health
Prepared by National Association of State
Offices of Minority Health (NASOMH)
Linda Thomas, Chief
Office of Minority Health
Oklahoma State Department of Health
1000 N.E. 10th Street, Suite 211
Oklahoma City, OK 73117-1299
Phone: (405) 271-1337
Fax: (405) 271-9228
Organizational Structure/History
The Oklahoma Office of Minority Health (OK-OMH) was established in 1994 by authority of the Oklahoma State Board of Health. The OK-OMH was created to address the disproportionately poor health of Oklahoma’s racial and ethnic minority population, as identified in various state and federal reports. The OK-OMH was originally placed within the Office of the Commissioner of the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). However, as a result of reorganization, the OK-OMH is now part of the Office of Community Health, OSDH.
Purpose/Mission Statement
To lead Oklahoma in improving the health status of Oklahoma’s minority and underserved populations by partnering, developing policies and implementing strategies to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities.
This mission statement is reflective of the OSDH's vision of creating a healthier Oklahoma through partnership and shared leadership. This mission statement was developed with the assistance of the newly formed Minority Health Advisory Panel. The Minority Health Advisory Panel was created by the Commissioner of Health to better focus agency resources and policy toward assisting Oklahoma's minority and underserved populations. The OK-OMH mission statement emphasizes the assessment of the health status of minority and underserved populations at the state and local levels that were identified by the 2003-2006 Legislative Task Force on the Elimination of Health Disparities in Oklahoma.
Program Focus/Activities
The OK-OMH focuses on health concerns and issues evident by the disproportionate number of preventable deaths, diseases and disabilities in minority and underserved populations. The core of these concerns highlights OK-OMH’s goal to eliminate health disparities among Oklahoma’s minority and underserved population. The OK-OMH generally concentrates on seven major health disparity areas including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV/STD, infant mortality, immunization and tobacco prevention. Typically, the OK-OMH does not operate programs; instead, it supports OSDH programs, services or policy through technical assistance or in an advisory capacity. For example, coordination is accomplished through partnership with various OSDH programs that provide services that either target or impact racial and ethnic minority populations, e.g., Chronic Disease, Office of Primary Care, Office of Community Development, Health Care Information, Immunizations, Child and Adolescent Health, HIV/STD, Tobacco Use Prevention and others. Specific OK-OMH activities related to these areas include:
·          Providing translation and interpreter services for agency employees Participating in an internal Minority Advisory Panel to address health disparities issues;
·          Assisting in the development of cultural competency policy and Limited English Proficiency compliance as required through federal CLAS (Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services) standards;
·          Providing technical and administrative support, via contract, to community organizations that provide violence prevention-based services to disadvantaged and minority youth. [The agency requires that the programs meet reporting and financial compliance guidelines as part of an evaluation process]; and
·          Conducting policy and program review   
·          Establishing public health outreach programs to racial and ethnic communities  
·          Developing student mentorship programs for workforce development     
·          Providing technical assistance to community groups for program implementation
·          Providing cultural diversity trainings for agency employees and OSDH clients.
 Survey tools are the standard method of evaluation for OMH initiatives. 
Eliminating Health Disparities Statewide Initiatives
The OK-OMH provided support to the Oklahoma Legislative Health Disparities Task Force (2003–2006) through staffing and the development of a 2006 final report of recommendations highlighting health access, cultural competency and data. In 2007, Oklahoma’s Governor issued an Executive Order to establish a Governor’s Task Force on Health Disparities from 2007-2009 to address unresolved health disparity issues (i.e., integrated data systems) and to build on recommendations developed from the previous Legislative Task Force. In addition, the OK-OMH participates in local and national minority health disparity initiatives through its collaboration with local community organizations and with the federal government (Region VI, U.S. Public Health Services, and Office of Minority Health). For example, the OK-OMH was recently awarded a 3-year National Partnership grant from the federal Office of Minority Health to address health disparities in the state. The Oklahoma project proposes to implement health councils in 4 targeted communities across the state to address local health needs for minority and underserved populations. The project also proposes to fund an FTE to provide data support to the OK-OMH, the Task Force, and the OSDH. The project also intends to develop recommendations to diversify the OSDH workforce to better reflect its clients and staff. Other specific OK-OMH activities include:
·         Allying with Oklahoma Tribal nations to address health disparities concerns;
·         Allying with local community groups to address the uninsured population through strategic planning and general resource support if available;
·         Assisting with health coalitions and local community groups in the allocation of available health resources, including the flu vaccine; and
·         Providing technical assistance to local organizations, including local universities, in the development of grant applications with health disparities focus.
·         Linking with traditional and nontraditional partners to develop and strengthen new and existing partnerships
·         Creating a network of racial and ethnic resource providers to help eliminate health disparities      
Level of Funding Sources
Year                 Federal              State            Total                 

FY 2005
FY 2006
FY 2007
FY 2008
FY 2009

The OK-OMH is generally funded through state appropriations but periodically solicits and/or receives funding from outside sources. If unable to apply for outside funding opportunities, the OK-OMH forwards these funding opportunities to eligible community partners for application.
The OK-OMH is staffed by Director, Program Specialist, two (2) Medical Interpreter/Translators (one part-time), and an  Epidemiologist ().   Periodically, the OK-OMH receives intern support from various local universities, including Langston University, University of Central Oklahoma, and Oklahoma University. These interns, through a contractual arrangement, provide support related to the daily operations of the office. They are also offered opportunities to collaborate with sister OSDH divisions and county offices, if applicable. Other volunteer support may be accessed through partnerships with local community groups (i.e., Asian Health Consortium).
Recent Publications
·          2006 Final Report Health Disparities Task Force
       Final Report (9Mb .pdf)
·          OSDH Guide to Oklahoma Resources for Healthier Communities 2006 Edition –Serves as a guide of health resources available to OSDH employees and the general public to assist in identifying available health resources for the all populations, including minority and underserved (i.e., priority) populations. Publication provided through assistance by the Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality. An updated document may be planned in the near future if resources become available.
·          2009 Oklahoma Minority Health At A Glance
·          Progress and Gap for U.S. and Oklahoma Racial /Ethnic Groups with Healthy People 2010 Objectives