The Minority Health Status Report was published, which helped start a Minority Health Office within the Nebraska Department of Health Bureau of Health Policy and Planning. The report said that the Nebraska population was healthy, but its racial/ethnic minority populations were not.
The Nebraska Department of Health was reorganized, and it became the Nebraska Health and Human Services System (NHHSS). NHHSS consists of three pieces: the Department of Health and Human Services; the Department of Finance and Support; and the Department of Regulation and Licensure. The Office of Minority Health became part of Regulation and Licensure.
Nebraska’s Unicameral passed LB692, which supported additional offices in Omaha, Lexington and Gering.
Through LB692, the Legislature began to appropriate Tobacco Settlement Funds through the Health Care Cash Funds, which funded the Minority Health Initiative projects. These funds target infant mortality, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and asthma in counties of Congressional Districts 1 and 3 which have 5% or more minority population.
As part of the DHHS reorganization, the Office was renamed Office of Minority Health and Health Equity. The Lexington office moved to Grand Island.
The Office was renamed the Office of Health Disparities and Health Equity.
The Office began receiving federal grant dollars through the State Partnershp Grant to develop cultural competency curriculum trainings and build partnershps. In the summer, the Office engaged communities across Nebraska in Public Health Policy Leadership Summits on the subject of Unnatural Causes...is inequality making us sick?, the critically acclaimed PBS Documentary series.
The Office began receiving every Woman Matters funds from the Nebraska Office of Women's and Men's Health, and additional Maternal Child Health funding. Six regional conversations began after presentations of Unnatural Causes...Is inequality making us sick? throughout the state. The Office continued Statewide work with immigrants and refugees, with events such as Somali Connection Day and the Refugee Leadership Academy. Lay Health Ambassadors were trained to provide peer-to-peer health education messages; cultural compentency trainings began; and the CATCH Kids Club was held in several areas to address nutrition and physical activity of children. OHDHE also continued statewide efforts in collecting, analyzing, evaluating, interpreting, reporting, and presenting health and socioeconomic data on racial/ethnic minorities, Native Americans, refugees, and immigrant groups, as well as developing epidemiological surveillance systems and studies related to their overall health.
With 20 years of service to the citizens of Nebraska, and under new leadership by Josie Rodriguez, the Office continues to be on the frontlines of education programs, outreach projects, and data collection. The core functions are addressed below.
Promote and provide training on cultural competency to improve access to health services for racial ethnic minorities. The Office offers cultural competency trainings throughout the State, for college and university faculty, students, and public and community health organizations. The Office continues statewide work with immigrants and refugees by partnering with other DHHS offices, local public health departments, city and county governments, community- and faith-based organizations, medical centers, and universities and colleges.
The Office empowers and trains refugees by offering leadership training that includes addressing health literacy.
Provide relevant statistical data to assess and identify health status of racial ethnic minorities. The Office collects, analyzes, evaluates, interprets, reports and present data on health and socio-economic conditions among racial/ethnic minorities, Native Americans, refugees, and immigrant groups. Reports address gender differences in behavioral risk factors, rural health disparities, socio-economic status in each of the three Congressional Districts, 2010 Census data, Nebraska disparities, surveillance data, and the socio-economic status of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Increase awareness of major health problems of racial and ethnic minorities and factors that influence health. The Office continues its work with Nebraska’s Tribes through the Native American Public Health Act to improve public health infrastructure, while focusing on health education and preventative health measures for Native Americans.
Through Maternal Child Health funding, the Office is involved with the CATCH Kids Club program, which is an evidenced-based after-school, summer, and community recreation program designed to promote healthy physical activity and eating behaviors in elementary school-age children. Staff members are also training lay health educators from within the cultural/social groups of target populations to promote healthy behavior changes.
The Office provides Safe Kids Outreach among minority communities; hosting events and educational session in Central and Western Nebraska targeting substance abuse and tobacco prevention among minority populations. At the same time, staff members are providing parent and community leadership training in Congressional District III. The Office, in collaboration with a consulting firm, is providing a six-week series of trainings to provide tools for immigrant and refugee parents. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder awareness among refugee communities, and teen parenting outreach and education, are also focuses of the funding.
Through the Every Woman Matters Program the Office is helping to identify the needs and barriers faced by African American, Hispanic, and African women in Nebraska to facilitate preventive screening and lower the incidence of breast and colon cancer. Through the same program, the Office is supporting patient navigation, and hosting focus groups and enrollment events.
Establish and strengthen networks, coalitions, and partnerships to identify and address health problems. Collaborate with public health partners to develop and promote programs and best practices to achieve health equity. Since none of us work in a vacuum, we acknowledge that without our wonderful partners, stakeholders, and communities across the State of Nebraska none of the above work can be accomplished.