Office of Minority and Multicultural Health
Prepared by National Association of State
Offices of Minority Health (NASOMH) 

Carolyn Daniels, Executive Director
Office of Minority and Multicultural Health
New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services
John Fitch Plaza - P. O. Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
Phone: (609) 292-6962
Fax: (609) 292-8713
Organizational Structure/History
The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) became increasingly concerned about the disparities in health status between minorities and whites in the mid-1980s. New Jersey initiated its response to racial/ethnic health disparities in the late 1980s when the minority community and key legislators called for action. In May 1989, the commissioner’s Advisory Committee on Minority Health was established and charged with (1) assessing the Health Profile on Minority Populations and (2) advising the Commissioner of Health & Senior Services on effective strategies to improve the health status of minority populations in New Jersey.
In September 1990, NJDHSS officially established the Office of Minority Health in the Office of the Commissioner. The governor signed into law P.L. 1991, Chapter 401, which permanently established the Office in 1992. A departmental data subcommittee updated the “Closing the Gap: Improving Health of New Jersey’s Minority Populations,” which was published in the Office of Minority Health in 1992. On August 8, 2001, bill A2204 was signed, renaming the Office of Minority Health to Office on Minority and Multicultural Health (OMMH). The amended bill strengthens the activities and increases the functions of the Office in several ways, including the following:
·         Ensures that the populations that the office serves include both racial and ethnic minorities and that the ultimate goal of the office is to eliminate health disparities;
·         Enhances the office's powers and duties by allowing the office to award grants to community-based programs.
The Office of Minority and Multicultural Health serves all of New Jersey’s racial and
ethnic minorities including African Americans, Latinos/Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and American Indians. 
Office of Minority and Multicultural Health Advisory Commission
The Advisory Commission (AC) of the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health (OMMH) serves as the leadership consortium that reviews and advises the office on needs and priorities relating to minority health in New Jersey and on any initiatives and policy recommendations that OMMH proposes. The AC also advises the office on the development of requests for applications (RFAs) and the awarding of grants. At intervals, the AC dialogues with the DHSS Commissioner on the current status of health disparities in New Jersey to help maintain focus on particular priority areas. The AC also provides the OMMH direct connections to model programs and initiatives that address health disparities. The OMMH Advisory Commission members include representatives from Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey; and the Spanish American Social and Cultural Association.
Purpose/Mission Statement
The mission of the New Jersey Office of Minority and Multicultural Health is to foster accessible and high quality programs and policies that help all racial and ethnic minorities in New Jersey to achieve optimal health, dignity and independence. The office works to prevent disease and to promote and protect the well-being of racial/ethnic minorities at all stages of life. We will accomplish our mission through increasing public and health professional awareness of persistent race/ethnic disparities and by developing effective health policies and culturally competent programs that lead to better access and utilization of quality health care services.
As a program within the Department of Health and Senior Services, the goal of OMMH is to develop a collaborative state effort to address the wide disparity in health access and outcomes among racial and ethnic minorities.
Program Focus/Activities
Program Focus
Community Outreach
OMMH strives to empower communities with information to help them more effectively participate in decision making about their health care. Community outreach is an essential component of addressing health disparities. 
Health Disparities Surveillance
OMMH monitors trends in health disparities overall but especially within designated medical priority areas including: asthma, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, unintentional injuries, hepatitis C, immunizations, kidney disease, sexually transmitted diseases, and violence.
Technical Assistance and Training
The OMMH provides training and technical assistance for internal staff and external agencies regarding best practices for addressing health disparities.
Community Mobilization Grants
·          OMMH funds community-based organizations to conduct outreach, education,             screening, referrals, and follow-up focusing on diabetes and asthma.
·          OMMH collaborates with the Division of Aging and Community Services to fund training in the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) to help individuals better manage their chronic diseases such as asthma, cancer, diabetes. The CDSMP was developed by the School of Medicine at Stanford University in California and is recognized internationally as a premiere evidence-based health promotion and disease prevention program.  The OMMH provides grants to community and faith based minority-serving organizations to train individuals to become master trainers, peer leaders and to host CDSMP workshops in minority communities throughout the state. Workshop participants learn strategies for managing symptoms, working with health care professionals, problem solving, relaxing and eating right and exercising safely and easily. New Jersey residents can attend CDSMP in their native languages of Spanish, Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin, Haitian Creole and Hindi. 
Cook/Rutledge Summer Fellowship
·       Designed to increase minority participation in the healthcare profession, the office awards two fellowships to graduate students in public health, medicine and law. Since the summer of 1987, the office has coordinated the selection process and supervised the comprehensive fieldwork experience for these students during their summer internships.
Language Access –- The Office of Minority and Multicultural Health's Language Access Initiative is increasing the amount of translated health education information and other material to help health care professionals provide more culturally competent care. The initiative has:
  • Greatly expanded access to Spanish language health education documents on the department’s web site as well as a limited number of other documents in Hindi, Mandarin Chinese and Haitian Creole.
  • Created and distributed -- in conjunction with the New Jersey Hospital Association – a Communication Picture Board to help providers better communicate with patients who speak a language other than English.
 Health Initiatives/Programs/Services
Healthy New Jersey 2020 - Healthy People 2020 is the federal health agenda administered through the US Department of Health and Human Services. This Healthy People initiative has been adopted as New Jersey’s public health agenda. One of the overarching goals is to achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups. OMMH has taken on the coordinating responsibility for developing the New Jersey agenda for 2020. 
Minority Health Month - September of each year is designated Minority Health Month in New Jersey. The OMMH invites minority serving community based organizations; faith based organizations; hospitals and health centers; and state, county and municipal government agencies to submit events for a Minority Health Month Calendar published and disseminated by the OMMH.
Office of Minority and Multicultural Health Web Page - OMMH has an established mechanism for sharing and disseminating information via its website. The OMMH website is a resource for information related to minority health, health disparities, and cultural and linguistic competency. Information disseminated includes related public health practice and policy, education and training, grants, conferences, awards and research. OMMH is linked with state and federal minority health-related entities and includes community based organization links when possible. The
OMMH website address is:
Impact of Program Activities on Communities
OMMH’s grants program provides funding to essential minority serving community based organizations so that they may implement targeted health promotion and disease prevention programs within the communities they serve. Chronic disease self management programs overall and specifically in the areas of asthma and diabetes are administered in minority communities statewide. These projects impact the community by helping to increase their knowledge and awareness of chronic conditions, creating links to medical care and providing tools for managing chronic diseases. Annually, through these activities:
·         Thousands of New Jersey residents are reached in various community settings including - health fairs, meetings, church services, supermarkets, beauty parlors, dances and other community events; 
·         Thousands are found to be at risk for developing diabetes;
·         Hundreds are referred to and visit community health clinics to have essential testing to identify and manage health conditions;
·         Hundreds of children are screened for asthma to clinically determine their risk factors and current status;
·         Hundreds of parents of asthmatic children participate in formal educational workshops on how to prevent asthma attacks and eliminate or minimize the environmental effects of substances and elements that might trigger asthma attacks in children; and
·         Hundreds of children and their parents are referred and linked to healthcare providers.
·         Hundreds with chronic diseases and/or their caretakers are trained on how to manage diseases and prevent complications from them.
The State Partnership Grant Program to Improve Minority Health(a 5-year grant; approx. $150,000 per year)continues toaddress racial and ethnic health disparities in New Jersey. This 5-year program aims to bolster the infrastructure of NJDHSS, increasing the department’s capacity to address health disparities. The following are accomplishments:
1)      The Office of Minority and Multicultural Health continues to provide leadership in the Department in implementing best practices (successful programs) in addressing health disparities through funding of grants in diabetes and asthma. Through collaborative efforts  with Senior Services, OMMH implemented a mini-grants initiative targeting community and faith based minority-serving organizations to reduce the impact chronic diseases can have on people’s lives and to encourage a positive approach to self-management. Trainings are now offered in multiple languages. To date 18 community and faith based minority-serving agencies have received funding for this important project. Currently there are 54 minority master trainers and approximately 80 peer leaders in New Jersey. 
2)      The annual Commissioner’s Health Disparities Symposium focused on Best Practices in Program Strategies in addressing health disparities.
3) OMMH continues to support initiatives that increase availability of and access to language
services. In the infrastructure area of language access, the Department has improved its ability to provide culturally competent resources for New Jersey’s diverse population through continued partnerships. A demonstration project to train hospital and community health center bilingual staff as medical interpreters was recently conducted in the northern region of the state by the Cross Cultural Communications. The 40-hour certificate program was presented in a series of five one-day units on healthcare interpreter training using the Community Interpreter manual. Participants received a framework for medical interpretation and cultural competency for interpreters while addressing interpretering skills and protocols; cross-cultural communication and the role of the interpreter; national ethics and standards of practice for healthcare interpreters; policies and procedures for provision of interpreter services; and cultural competency in health care. A total of 64 bilingual staff from community health centers and hospitals in the northern and southern regions of the state successfully completed medical interpreter training.       
4) To increase minorities in the health professions the OMMH collaborated with the New
Jersey Dental Association (NJDA) to develop and release Exposing Diverse Students to Oral Health Professions, a unique tool kit designed to encourage students to pursue careers in oral health. The NJDHSS hopes to inspire minority students to enter oral health professions. This tool kit contains information that will help school guidance counselors and student advisors arrange for an oral health professional visit to their school. It also provides facts about oral health careers and outlines various resources for students and their parents. These tool kits were distributed to hundreds of students in Newark, New Jersey.    
5) To improve systems to collect, code, and report racial/ethnic and primary language spoken
data, OMMH supported the development of the NJDHSS policy, “Racial and Ethnic Coding Standards for NJDHSS and its Grantees.” This policy provides a uniform standard for the collection and reporting of data. OMMH will continue to monitor and report the use of these guidelines to ensure appropriate data collection and reporting methods. 
During Minority and Multicultural Health Month, more than 100 events are sponsored by community and faith-based organizations providing information on minority health related issues. Awareness campaigns increase knowledge of the impact of health disparities on minority populations and resources in New Jersey to address this issue.
Eliminating Health Disparities Statewide Initiatives
InSeptember 2004, the New Jersey Legislature authorized the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Senior Services (the Department) to establish the Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative in the Office on Minority and Multicultural Health (OMMH).   Public Law 2004, c. 137, required the OMMH to develop and implement a comprehensive, coordinated plan to improve the health of racial and ethnic minorities within the State.
In March 2007, OMMH, with the help of other key divisions and units within the Department, coordinated, developed and released the Strategic Plan to Eliminate Health Disparities in New Jersey. This Plan provides clearly stated, measurable goals for the Department in its efforts to eliminate health disparities throughout the state.
The NJDHSS Strategic Plan to Eliminate Health Disparities (the Plan) aims to address some of the major issues that contribute to racial and ethnic health disparities in New Jersey.   The Disparities Plan:
·        Summarizes the Department’s efforts to improve its capacity to address health disparities as part of its ongoing activities,
·        Supports intradepartmental collaboration specifically on eliminating health disparities,
·        Examines existing programs and initiatives addressing health disparities,
·        Sets goals, action plans and outcome measures for tracking progress of objectives,
·        Focuses on certain priority areas including asthma, breast, cervical, colorectal and prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, HIV disease, infant mortality and unintentional injuries, and
·        Addresses the impact of obesity on the health of minority populations
The OMMH released a one-year update of the department’s progress on objectives of the health disparities Plan in December 2007. An addendum to the Plan will focus on other priority health areas including: kidney disease, hepatitis C, sexually transmitted infections, immunizations, and violence. 
Chronic Kidney Disease Task Force
Public Law A1767 signed on January 16, 2010, mandates the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health (OMMH) within the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services to establish a Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Task Force. 
This act shall take effect immediately and is to be established within 60 days of the legislation’s enactment.
The purpose of the CKD Task Force is to:
1)      Develop a Chronic Kidney Disease Plan to educate the public and health care professionals about the advantages and methods of early screening, diagnosis and treatment of chronic kidney disease and its complications based on kidney disease outcomes and evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for chronic kidney disease,
2)      Make recommendations on the implementation of a cost effective plan for early screening, diagnosis and treatment of chronic kidney disease Statewide; and
3)      Identify barriers to the adoption of best practices and potential public policy options to address these barriers.
Level of Funding Sources
The OMMH budget of approximately $1.5 million is supported by both state and federal funds.
OMMH receives approximately $150,000 (for fiscal years 2005-2010) from the Federal Office of Minority Health for that program.
The New Jersey Office of Minority and Multicultural Health are currently staffed by an executive director, four professionals and two support staff, listed below:
Executive Director – establishes goals; oversees operations; sets agenda for the office;
Secretary – carries out administrative tasks;
Principal Clerk Typist – carries out administrative tasks;
Research Scientist – designs, coordinates, implements specialized research; prepares reports relating to research, grant and other activities; provides technical assistance;
Public Health Representative – serves as liaison to groups interested in department programs and services; monitors grantees; provides technical assistance;
Program Development Specialists (2) – monitor grantees; provide technical assistance; coordinate and report on grant activities and progress; develop partnerships targeting specific minority communities; update website information; and
Consultants – provide expertise in a particular area; advise the office on public health trends in the
community as well as nationally; conduct research; and produce reports to the office on a subject in alignment with goals of Minority and Multicultural Health.
Recent Publications
·         The Strategic Plan to Eliminate Health Disparities in New Jersey is available by mail request or online at  Updates and Addendums are also available online.
·         The Office of Minority and Multicultural Health Month Calendar of Activities is published every September. See OMMH contributed to the article, “Cultural Competency in New Jersey: Evolution from Planning to Law,” which was published in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 18 (2007): 35-43.
·         The OMMH contributed to the Original Paper, “Access to Hospital Interpreter Services for Limited English Proficient Patients in New Jersey: A Statewide Evaluation,” which was published in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 19 (2008).