Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities
Prepared by National Association of State
Offices of Minority Health (NASOMH)
Michelle R. Smith, Ph.D., MPH, Director
Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities
Arkansas Department of Health
4815 West Markham Street, Slot 39
Little Rock, Arkansas 72205
Phone: (501) 280-4192
Fax: (501) 671-1450
Idonia L. Trotter, JD., MPS
Arkansas Minority Health Commission
523 Louisiana, Suite 425
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
Phone: (501) 686-2720
Fax: (501) 686-2722
The Arkansas Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities (OMHHD) is located within the Director’s Office. The Director of the Department of Health established the Office in 1991 because of her concern regarding the disparity in health status of minority populations.
The mission of the Arkansas Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities is to assist in ensuring that health services are appropriate, accessible, and sensitive to the needs of the minority population. In carrying out its mission, OMHHD collaborates with all the programs within the Department of Health to address the needs of minority populations. OMHHD provides technical assistance to communities and organizations in the area of asset mapping, grant proposal development, cultural competency, coalition building, and referrals to other agencies.
The Office works closely with the Arkansas Minority Health Commission that was established by legislation in July 1991 (Act 912). The Arkansas Minority Health Commission works toward assuring that all minority Arkansans access to health care is equal to the care provided to other citizens of the state and toward seeking ways to provide education, address, treat and prevent diseases and conditions that are prevalent among minority populations. The commission is a freestanding legislative entity, reporting to the Governor’s Office that collaborates with OMHHD on many initiatives.
The OMHHD has an Advisory Committee with representatives from each Center in the Arkansas Department of Health who are tasked to be advocates for the OMHHD in their respective areas, incorporating activities to work toward eliminating disparities.
Health Planning/Policy Development
Compensation for Second Language - This legislative Act 1461 was passed in 2001 allowing for up to a ten percent (10%) increase in pay to any employee whose specific job assignment requires the skill to communicate in a language other than English, including American Sign Language, and which skill is required as a secondary minimum qualification by the classification specification for the position occupied by the employee. OMHHD assisted in developing policy for the Department to guide managers in utilizing this legislation.
Limited English Proficiency (LEP) - The LEP Program is based directly on Federal Guidance that states: Individuals who do not speak English as their primary language and who have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English can be Limited English Proficient, or “LEP”. These individuals may be entitled to language assistance with respect to a particular type of service, benefit, or encounter.
Policies - Providing meaningful access to LEP persons will ensure that the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and LEP beneficiaries can communicate effectively and act appropriately based on that communication. Therefore ADH should take reasonable steps to:
· Ensure that LEP persons are given appropriate and adequate information;
· Ensure that LEP persons are able to understand that information; and
· Ensure that LEP persons are able to participate effectively in ADH programs and/or activities, where appropriate.
To assist in the above process, the OMHHD has provided each Local Health Unit two sets of “I Speak” cards. These are identification cards that allow LEP beneficiaries to identify their language needs to staff and for staff to identify the language needs of clients. The “I Speak” cards invite the LEP person to identify the language he/she speaks. The policy became effective, October 23, 2007.
Technical Assistance and Training
Cultural Competence Training - OMHHD developed a cultural competency training curriculum in conjunction with the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Campus University Affiliate Program. The curriculum consist of three modules: two address diversity within the individual and the other addresses problem solving with an emphasis on poverty issues. Training is now incorporated into the orientation of all new employees.
Data Profile Book - Arkansas Minority Health Data Profile Report on People of Color from 1993 – 1997. This report provides information concerning the health status of minority populations in Arkansas. Such information is needed to address the health needs and concerns of Arkansas residents at the local, state, and regional level. This report contains data for many indicators used in other studies; however, the indicators presented here are by no means exhaustive. The report is designed to make these indicators easily accessible, while at the same time allowing flexibility to users in their selection. To accomplish this, the frequencies of particular events of conditions, along with rates or percentages, are presented in concise tables and graphs. The Arkansas Healthy People 2010 Health Status Report - 2007 replaces this profile booklet and was distributed April 2008.
Arkansas Healthy People 2010 Health Status Report 2007 - Published in 2007, this report provides insight into health disparities within Arkansas as they currently exist. Various subgroups of the State’s overall population exhibit disproportionate rates for key factors that lead to poor health. ADH is leading efforts to eliminate these inequities through partnerships with community organizations, health care providers and other groups. The report provides a snapshot of what has been accomplished and areas to be addressed as we continue to develop and implement strategies to improve the overall health status of the people of our state.
Navigational Resource Guide
This guide was developed to assist the Department in providing services to evacuees of Hurricane Katrina and others requesting services. Copies of this guide are available by contacting OMHHD.
Hispanic Risk Study – This study was designed to determine factors that affect Hispanic utilization of public health services. Based on the opinions of an expert panel comprised of members of the Hispanic community and health care professionals conversant with the issues surrounding Hispanic health care, as well as interviews with Arkansas Department of Health professionals who service the Hispanic community, this study examines the factors that affect Hispanic access to public health care in Arkansas, where the term “access” is considered both to mean participation in and receipt of quality public health care.
Marshall Island Assessment - A community assessment conducted to ascertain the health concerns of the Marshall Island population. Since this initial assessment in 2000, the population of Marshall Islanders has continued to increase in the Northwest area of Arkansas. In 2004, the Department conducted a four county health needs assessment focus group with Marshall Island women. The focus group was facilitated by a Marshallese who works at the Northwest Arkansas Multicultural Center. It was conducted in Marshallese, with two staff members from the University of Arkansas Social Work Research Center, facilitating and/or observing the group. A summary of the major themes were: (1) Northwest Arkansas has the highest concentration population of Marshall Islanders outside of their homeland, the Republic of the Marshall Islands; (2) Accessing needed health care services was identified by a majority of the focus group participants as being a problematic concern; (3) Language and cultural barriers, lack of qualified Marshallese translators; and (4) lack of awareness of available health care clinics and services. These were the reasons most frequently cited by members of the focus group regarding the difficulties that many Marshall Islanders experience in attempting to access needed health care services.
As a result of this study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came to Arkansas and conducted an Epi-Aid report in 2003-2005. This report is a compilation of work provided by CDC in identifying the current public health burden of select reportable diseases among the Marshallese residing in Northwest Arkansas. On May 2, 2007 an all day forum was held entitled “Assessing Public Health Strategies Improving Health: Marshall Islanders. The goal of this forum was to facilitate a dialog for participants to have a common understanding of issues, resources, and gaps in order to develop a strategic model for improving healthcare and quality of life among Marshallese in Northwest Arkansas. Information obtained from this meeting will be used to increase awareness of health issues and to seek resources to meet needs. The Marshall Island Health Minister attended the forum to provide current information regarding health. In addition, several staff from Centers for Disease Control/ Epi-Aid attended.
Health Disparities Section (HDS) – The HDS is a newly formed section of the Arkansas Public Health Association (APHA) and was established in 2007 to address issues of reducing/eliminating health disparities; educating and informing others on health disparities; bringing health disparities to the forefront not just to members of APHA but also to communities; and finding ways and potential sources to access funding.
Health Fairs – OMHHD provides assistance to organizations and communities in setting up health fairs and provide health information and promotional aids. Specifically, the OMHHD has developed a Health Fair/Health Fair Event Guidance Manual to assist community organizations in preparing for their health fairs. The manual provides the requestor with information on promotional material available, contacts to various programs, a request form for internal and external partners to obtain material, speakers, etc., and an evaluation of the procedure. This manual can be obtained by contacting the Office of Minority Health & Health Disparities.
Health Initiatives/Program Services
Arkansas Cancer Coalition (ARCC) - Statewide network consisting of organizations and individuals committed to improving the health of Arkansas. The ARCC mission is to reduce the human suffering and economic burden from cancer for all Arkansas citizens. Activities include the awarding of competitive mini grants for innovative community-based projects, assisting ARCC partners with outreach activities, supporting professional and public education surrounding various cancer topics, and planning breast and prostate conferences.
Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus – The Caucus holdsyearly conferences to address the problems endemic to minority Arkansans, resolve issues in planning for the next legislative session, and produce a legislative agenda for the upcoming session. The Caucus mission is to foster economic growth throughout Arkansas and to cultivate opportunities for wealth and a higher standard of living for minority and low income Arkansans. During the 2007 legislative session, the caucus convened a public roundtable each Wednesday to provide a forum for minority groups to present their programs and/or concerns. The caucus also convened a monthly “think tank” in order to assist constituents in developing and presenting legislation they wanted to get enacted.
Arkansas Minority Health Consortium - At the recommendation of Senator Tracy Steele, the Consortium focuses on identifying, reviewing, and discussing issues related to the delivery of and access to health care services, as well as identifying gaps in the health services delivery systems. The Consortium makes policy and procedural recommendations regarding the availability of services for minority populations. This organization provides a forum for partner updates, information dissemination, and legislation recommendation.
Arkansas Community Planning Group (ARCPG) - The purpose of ARCPG is to serve in an advisory capacity to ADH Since 1994 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has required state health departments to work in partnership with community planning groups to design local prevention/intervention plans that best represent the needs of the various communities infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. The ARCPG was established to meet this requirement and is housed under the HIV/STD Section of ADH.
Child and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP) Coordinating Council – The purpose of the CASSP is to develop and monitor a statewide plan for treating children with emotional disturbances. This Council focus on mandating services that are child and family centered and its priority is to keep children with their families. Services are community based, with decision-making responsibility and management at the local and regional level. Services are also culturally and ethnically sensitive to the needs of the clients served.
The Cultural and Linguistic Competence Plan (CLCP) has a State/Regional and County Governance Board that provides guidance to ensure that all services and strategies designed and implemented are culturally and linguistically sensitive and appropriate for those being served through Action for Kids. Action for Kids is a system of care project for children/youth with serious emotional disturbances serving Craighead, Lee, Mississippi and Phillips counties. The overarching goal of the CLCP is to ensure that the system of care adopts a systemic, systematic and strategic approach to increasing the cultural responsiveness of services and supports delivered to children, youth and families, and a sensitivity and appreciation for diversity and cultural issues throughout the system of care.
Cultural Awareness Training Seminars – These seminars are conducted annually for Department of Health employees to become familiar with the impact of how cultural practices impact the way many of our clients utilize health services. Each year there is a different focus area highlighted, such as HIV/AIDS and chronic diseases. This seminar was first held in 2006 with a focus on the minority groups in Arkansas, and their cultural practices in reference to health care. This seminar is held during April as part of “Minority Health Month” activities.
Diabetes Advisory Council (DAC) – The mission of the DAC is to provide guidance to the state of Arkansas on diabetes issues as well as supporting the efforts of diabetes prevention and control with an emphasis on populations disproportionately affected by the disease. The DAC was first convened on November 20, 2002 with additional partners in an effort to develop the Arkansas Diabetes State Plan.
Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Taskforce - The Health Disease and Stroke Prevention Taskforce consists of seventy (70) members from public and private health organizations. The Taskforce meets twice a year to review the interventions established in the comprehensive heart disease and stroke state plan. The goal of the state plan is to improve knowledge of symptoms of heart attack and stroke among Arkansas residents, and increase public awareness of the necessity of and option for rapid response in the case of heart attack or stroke.
The Heart Disease and Stroke Workgroup is a subcommittee of the Taskforce formed to implement, monitor, and support the work of the Taskforce. It was established in 2000 when the CDC funded Arkansas for heart disease and stroke prevention. The Workgroup’s mission is to reduce heart disease and stroke targeting adults in Arkansas by supporting programs, interventions and activities that reduce morbidity, mortality and related health disparities.
Injury Prevention Coalition – The Coalition’s mission is to sustain, enhance, and promote
the ability of state, territorial, and local public health departments to reduce death
and disability associated with injuries. The goals of the coalition are to: (1) expand the
ability of public health agencies to develop policy; (2) conduct research, and design;
(3) implement and evaluate interventions; and (4) provide training and education.
Minority Health Month (April) – The first week of minority health month is designated as (OMHHD Diversity Week). Activities during this week are coordinated with Public Health Week. A joint press conference is held to kick off the weeklong activities. Activities are planned across the state for each day of Public Health Week (i.e. press conference, healthy exercise, cooking class demonstrations, and an agency-wide walk). The week ends with A Taste of the World. For this activity each employee is asked to bring a food dish representing their culture to share. It has become the highlight of OMHHD’s Diversity Week and Public Health Week due to the time set aside to appreciate each other’s culture.
Sickle Cell Disease Foundation(SCDF) - This non-profit organization provides follow-up counseling and support to families with children who have the trait and/or disease. The SCDF is working toward obtaining funding for a health care facility to manage the disease of adults with sickle cell.
Sickle Cell Support Services (SCSS) - This non-profit is organized exclusively for charitable, scientific and educational purposes. The SCSS’s focus is on enhancing the well-being of sickle cell patients and their families in the state of Arkansas. Financial assistance, prescription assistance, transportation and other services are available to patients through their social services program.
SIDS: Back to Sleep Campaign – The statewide “SIDS: Back to Sleep” campaign conducted during the month of October in 2008 and April in 2009 by ADH emphasized the proper way to put a baby to sleep to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Collaborating with The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s resources using materials designed to reduce the risk of SIDS, ADH distributed campaign information to all ADH Local Health Units, 73 Hometown Health Improvement Coalitions and 45 Arkansas Hospital Association members who have obstetrical and/or maternity services. The goal of the campaign is to get this information to the parent and caregiver of every baby born in Arkansas. Just over 40,000 children are born in Arkansas each year.
Tobacco Prevention Control Program - The Department of Health received funding in 2003 from the CDC to develop a strategic plan for identifying and eliminating disparities related to tobacco use among special populations. A workgroup was established to assist in developing the strategic plan. OMHHD assists in coordinating the activities of this workgroup. The strategic plan has been completed, and it will be printed and distributed to all participants. This plan will be available through the Tobacco Program.
An evaluation is administered after each training session and cultural seminar, and the results are used to develop the next session.
Eliminating Health Disparities Statewide Initiatives
Arkansas has chosen to focus its 2010 objective of “eliminating ethnic and racial health disparities” through a coordinated effort of focusing in each program offered to consumers. Instead of a report that is produced and shared with consumers, each of the programs within the Department has identified its goals and objectives. OMHHD will publish a report card every two years to monitor the program’s progress. The first report has been completed and was distributed in April 2008 during Minority Health Month. OMHHD, in conjunction with the Health Statistics Section, is working on data monographs focusing on the health status of each minority group in the state to share with communities and organizations. The Arkansas Minority Health Commission completed an Arkansas Racial and Ethnic Health Disparity Study in 2004. The Commission will partner with the Department of Health in developing ongoing monographs for each minority group.
Organizational Chart and Strategic Plan
Year Federal State
The OMHHD has personnel of five FTE’s, and Masters level second year Social Work management interns. Staff consists of a Director, Program Coordinator, two Project Analysts, Budget Coordinator, and Administrative Assistant. Staff is aligned with Centers/Sections/Programs to provide guidance as they work toward eliminating health disparities.
- OMHHD Office Brochures ( In Spanish & English)
- Data Profile Booklet
- Arkansas Healthy People 2010 Health Status Report 2007
- Minority Health Cultural Awareness Calendar
- Navigational Resource Guide