New York Office of Minority Health
Prepared by National Association of State
Offices of Minority Health (NASOMH)
Yvonne J. Graham, Associate Commissioner Director,
Office of Minority Health and 
Health Disparities Prevention
90 Church Street, 15th Floor
New York State Department of Health
New York, NY 10007
Phone: (212) 417-5785
Fax: (212) 417-4643
Organizational Structure/History
The New York State Department of Health Office for Minority Health (NYSOMH) was established by an amendment to the New York State Public Health Law in 1992 (NYS Public Health Law sections 240-243. Title II-F) to focus on the health of racial and ethnic minorities in New York State. The office became operational in 1994; is located within the Center for Community Health; and functions within the Commissioner of Health’s executive team structure.  
Purpose/Mission Statement
The mission of NYSOMH is to help build New York as the healthiest state by promoting access to high-quality healthcare to improve health outcomes and eliminate health inequities among racial and ethnic minorities. NYSOMH carries out its mission by: funding projects that increase access (coverage, caretakers, care) to high quality healthcare for racial and ethnic minorities; offering training, communication strategies, and expert advice and consultation on priority minority health topics; continually evaluating progress and readjusting if necessary; uniting with others to promote a New York State Health Equity Agenda; supporting the NYS Minority Health Council in its role of advising the State Commissioner of Health on minority health issues. The office values finding solutions to the health concerns of racial and ethnic and other vulnerable populations; relationship-building to improve minority health; respecting diversity; appreciating cultural differences; promoting health literacy and numeracy, and self-empowerment; striving for health equity.
Advisory Boards
The New York State Minority Health Council (the Council) was established by the same legislation that created NYSOMH. This Council is charged with advising the State Commissioner of Health on minority health issues. The Council is made up of fourteen members who are appointed by the Governor with approval of the New York State Senate. With staff support from NYSOMH, the Council has been operational since 2002. Office of Minority Health staff assumes responsibility for all council meeting logistics, systematic literature reviews, report writing and follow though on issues identified by the Council for action. 
Program Focus/Activities
During the last ten years (1999-2009), NYSOMH designed and implemented the Minority Health  Partnerships Program through which three cohorts of community coalitions (19) were funded to improve minority health and address specific health disparities; received an ASTHO award acknowledging the success and value of the Minority Health Partnerships Program; organized the state's first Minority Health Disparities Summit; provided testimony before the NYS Senate's Task Force on Elimination of Health Disparities; been awarded 5-year U.S.DHHS Office of Minority Health State Partnership Grant; expanded its mini grant program; initiated a Minority Male Screening and Wellness Program; initiated a Latino Health Outreach Initiative; launched an Evaluation Capacity Building project; mentored a number of  SUNY-Albany School of Public Health Masters in Public Health students; hosted continuing education conference calls on a variety of minority health-related topics; conducted training workshops (e.g. health disparities, asset-based community development, program evaluation, cross cultural communication) in communities across the State; established the Minority Health list serve, sharing information related to minority health with 200 participants on a daily basis; established an archive of over 500 books, reports, articles, and publications on minority health, health disparities, and social determinants of health; partnered with the Albany County Department of Social Services to provide the seasonal resources requested by families in need for the past 5 years; facilitated and coordinated all meetings of the NYS Minority Health Council.
In order to be more effective and efficient in meeting the minority health challenges of the 21st century, in 2010 and beyond, NYSOMH will focus its funding and other activities on programs and projects that have the potential to be both replicable and scalable, and will partner with others to expand these efforts. 
Impact of Program Activities on Communities
Through the Minority Health Partnership Program and with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health State Partnership Grant Program, NYSOMH has made significant impact on the communities targeted. The Minority Health Partnership Program—a coalition-driven, asset-based, neighborhood-specific initiative that is currently in its third cohort of community coalitions (1) enhanced the capability of preventing illness and making healthy choices of over 4,438 racial–ethnic minorities impacted by the health disparity targeted, by employing a variety of health promotion strategies (including use of community health workers); (2) promoted community education to increase knowledge of minority health and health disparities through radio call-in shows, newspaper articles, newsletters, resource guides, and community screening events; (3) increased the capacity and skill level of health care providers in target communities to improve minority health and reduce/eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities; (4) brought together over 400 groups—business, housing, government organizations, labor, healthcare, cultural, schools, voluntary organizations—and individuals to focus attention and activities on causes of and solutions for racial and ethnic health disparities; (5) helped to shape organizational norms of coalition member organizations and others to improve minority health in the target communities; and (6) maximized opportunities to shape policy to improve minority health.
By implementing an Evaluation Capacity Building Project in conjunction with the Minority Health Partnership Program, NYSOMH seeks not only to promote the use of program evaluation within NYSOMH-funded community coalitions but also to improve understanding of the role of community coalitions in addressing minority health disparities. Both projects will end in early 2011 at which time the office expects to have gathered practice-based and empirically-derived information on the impact of the Minority Health Partnership Program (NYSOMH’s) most resource intensive program) on the target communities.
Eliminating Health Disparities Statewide Initiatives
Even though the NYSOMH Minority Health Partnership Program addresses health inequities in communities across the State, its impact is limited to the select number of communities in which the community coalitions exist. However, the Department of Health has launched two major statewide initiatives with the potential to reduce or eliminate racial, ethnic and socioeconomic health disparities where they exist. One is the Prevention Agenda toward the Healthiest State which identifies ten priorities for improving the health of all New Yorkers and asks communities to work together to address them. The ten priority areas are: Access to Quality Health Care; Chronic Disease; Community Preparedness; Healthy Environment; Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, Healthy Children; Infectious Disease; Mental Health and Substance Abuse; Physical Activity and Nutrition; Tobacco Use; and Unintentional Injury. Going forward, NYSOMH’s funding efforts will focus on the first (Access to Quality Health Care) of these ten priority areas.
The second DOH statewide initiative with the potential to reduce or eliminate racial, ethnic and socioeconomic health disparities where they exist is the transformation of the State’s Medicaid program. This includes a new commitment to broadening coverage and making it more accessible, a new focus on ambulatory care, primary care enhancements (e.g. establishing coverage for diabetes and asthma education by certified educators in clinic and office-based settings; providing enhanced payment for ‘after hours’ access in both clinic and office-based settings; reimbursing for individual psychotherapy services provided by licensed social workers for children, adolescents, and pregnancy related counseling; reimbursing for smoking cessation counseling among pregnant and postpartum women and adolescents up to age 221 in the clinic or office within the context of an medical visit; payment for post-hospitalization cardiac rehabilitation services provided in clinic and physician offices for patients with specific diagnoses; payment for screening, brief intervention, referral and treatment (SBIRT) services provided in hospital emergency departments to identify individuals at risk for substance abuse; and incentive payments to clinics and office-based physicians that achieve NCQA patient centered medical home recognition), and conducting and using studies to target improvement efforts. The office is committed to building new relationships with the Office of Health Insurance Programs.

Level of Funding Sources
Year                             Federal                         State                           Other
FY 2007
$ -0-
FY 2008
$ 94,974
$ -0-
FY 2009
$ -0-
FY 2010
$       -0-
$ -0-
Currently, NYSOMH is staffed by six full time equivalents including the director, 2 regional program managers, one grants manager, one health program administrator (funded by the U.S.DHHS Office of Minority Health’s State Partnership Grant and will be transferred when this grant ends August 2010), and one secretary. Additionally, the office engages at least one student intern from the State University of New York at Albany School of Public Health to implement specific projects relating to minority health.
Recent Publications
Waithe, W.E. (Oct-Dec 2009). Healthy relationships: Use and influence of community-based participatory approaches. J Ambul Care Manage, 32 (4):295-8.
Allard, I.M., & Waithe, W.E. (2009). Preparing future physicians: A re-examination of communication and the physician-patient relationship through the lens of culturally sensitive teaching and learning methodologies. The Open Medical Education Journal, 2:1-5.
Smedley, B.D. (2009). Moving toward health equity in New York: State strategies to eliminate health disparities. A White Paper Commissioned by the New York State Minority Health Council.