Office of Health Equity

The Office of Health Equity (OHE), established by Connecticut law (CGS Sec. 19a-4j) on October 1, 2014, replaces the former Office of Multicultural Health.

 

***The Healthy Connecticut 2019 State Health Assessment is now available for viewing or download*** -Guided by this vision for health equity, CT DPH staff; Coalition partners; and external stakeholders collaborated to develop this document as an actionable foundation for the State Health Improvement Plan. The Describing Connecticut section highlights determinants of health data, but you will find upstream causes of ill health throughout the assessment.

***"I SPEAK" Cards are available (May 2019)*** -Your rights to language assistance!

***Health Equity Toolkit for Local Health Departments*** -A collection of resources and practical tools to help our partners incorporate health equity into every day work.

 

Vision

Healthy People in Healthy, Equitable Connecticut Communities

Guiding Principle

"Equal enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is a human right and a priority of the state." (Originally adopted from CGA Public Act No. 08-171, the Guiding Principle of OHE has been incorporated into the Mission Statement for the CT Department of Public Health)

Mission

The responsibility of the Office of Health Equity is "to improve the health of all Connecticut residents by working to eliminate differences in disease, disability and death rates among ethnic, racial and other population groups that are known to have adverse health status or outcomes. Such population groups may be based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, socioeconomic position, immigrant status, sexual minority status, language, disability, homelessness, mental illness or geographic area of residence." 

This name and mission statement were adopted by the Connecticut General Assembly as Section 5 of Public Act 14-231 "An Act Concerning the Department of Public Health's Recommendations Regarding Various Revisions to the Public Health Statutes," which was signed into law by Governor Malloy on June 13, 2014.

 

Program Description

Effective December 1, 2016, the Office of Health Equity (OHE) reports directly to the Office of the Commissioner as part of Public Health Systems Improvement. It works to ensure that health equity is a cross-cutting principle in all agency programs, data collection, and planning efforts. OHE program activities focus on the underlying social determinants of health, and on the promotion and implementation of culturally and linguistically appropriate services in DPH contractor, local health, and community-based organizations.

The National CLAS Standards provide a framework for health, healthcare, and social service organizations to advance health equity, improve quality, and help eliminate health disparities. OHE promotes the CLAS Standards in Connecticut through training, workshops, and web-based resources in collaboration with federal and state partners.

Social Determinants of Health

Our strategies to eliminate disparities and achieve health equity focus on the social determinants of health, that is the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, age and die, including the health system. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and other resources at global, national and local levels. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities - the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between communities. (Adapted from the 
WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health)   

Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS)

Culturally and linguistically appropriate services are a critical step in addressing long-term health and healthcare disparities confronted by diverse communities throughout the United States. (Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. Institute of Medicine, 2003.)

Racial and ethnic health disparities in Connecticut have been extensively documented in a series of 
DPH publications, presentations, and fact sheets on our Health Disparities webpage. Connecticut's population, currently 3.58 million, is diverse with 32.2% identified as a racial and ethnic minority. Hispanics or Latinos are the largest minority group at 15.7% of the state population, followed by non-Hispanic Blacks or African Americans, 9.8%; non-Hispanic Asians, 4.4%; people who are not Hispanic and identify as being of two or more races, 2.1%; American Indians or Alaska Natives, 0.1%; and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.  (Source: US Census Bureau. 2018 ACS 5-Year Estimates Data Profile, Table DP05: ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates).

Limited English Proficiency (LEP) is another factor associated with poor health status and health outcomes. LEP is a known barrier in accessing healthcare and during healthcare encounters. There are approximately 513,646 (14% of the total population) Connecticut residents who were born in another country, about 753,007 residents aged 5 and older who speak a language other than English at home, and 278,576 who speak English "less than very well." (Source: US Census Bureau. 2018 ACS 5-Year Estimates Data Profile, Table DP02: Selected Social Characteristics in the United States).   

CLAS Presentations and Publications

Promoting Health Equity in Connecticut through the CLAS Standards (November 2015)

"CLAS 101" - Introduction to the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care (January 2015)

CT DPH National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care (CLAS Standards) Baseline Assessment (October 2014)

 

OHE Strategic Planning

Office of Health Equity Strategic Plan, 2015-2018: At a Glance | Entire document

Year 1 Accomplishments (October 1, 2015  September 30, 2016)

 
DPH Strategic Planning 

The name and mission statement of the Office of Health Equity (OHE) are consistent with federal and state initiatives that emphasize the principle of health as a human right and social good for all people. The OHE name, mission statement, and strategic plan are also consistent with recent agency efforts and initiatives, such as:

The DPH Mission Statement, which was revised in 2012 to include the principle of health equity; 

The DPH Strategic Plan, 2019-2023, which identified promoting health equity as one of five agency strategic priorities; and 

The State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP), 2014-2020, in which health equity and the social determinants of health are overarching themes for the entire plan. A total of 39 SHIP objectives address health equity issues.


Partnerships

Strong partnerships are essential to our efforts. Our lead federal partner, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH), provides support primarily through technical assistance for our strategic planning efforts. From 2013-2015, DPH was the recipient of the State Partnership Grant to Improve Minority Health from OMH to support the efforts of the office and our then lead state partner, the Connecticut Multicultural Health Partnership (CMHP), to promote and implement CLAS Standards in DPH contractor, local health, and community-based agencies. CMHP was a statewide coalition of members representing health and social service organizations, public health entities, advocacy and coalition groups, colleges and universities, small businesses and community members. Along with the other New England states, the Office of Health Equity (OHE) is a active participant in Region 1 efforts to advance health equity.

The OHE Director is a member of the UConn Health's Public Issues Council (PIC). The PIC membership consists of staff from UConn Health, Connecticut Children's Medical Center, and the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut (CHCACT) to provide a breadth of experience and knowledge toward identifying health priorities for the state and region in order to improve health care delivery and health education for its patients and tomorrow's health and health care professionals. Its concerns span a variety of settings including affiliated hospitals, physicians’ offices, community health centers, schools, and educational community and state partners.

The OHE Director also serves as the designated requestor of Conrad State 30 Waivers as part of DPH’s participation in the US Department of State’s J-1 Visa program. The Director of the Primary Care Office will administer the Waiver Program in accordance with DPH Regulations 19a-2a-24 through 19a-2a-26. OHE Director will have final review of the applications prior to forwarding to the U.S. Department of State.

Other state partners include Connecticut local health departments, and all other state agencies and commissions. Our recent efforts to address health disparities and promote health equity include implementation of the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care in collaboration with local health departments and other community-based health and social services organizations.


Health Equity Policies at DPH

Policy on Collecting Sociodemographic Data and User's Guide (April 2017; the original policy, created in September 2008, can be viewed by following this link)

Policy and Procedures for Communicating with Persons of Limited English Proficiency (updated October 2016)

Health Equity Policy and Procedures (August 2016)

Non-Discrimination in the Provision of the Department of Public Health Programs and Services Policy (July 2011)

 

Health Equity organizations in Connecticut

 

National Health Equity organizations

CDC Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE)

Office of Minority Health (U.S. HHS)

  

Other equity-related DPH webpages

Asthma

Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Health Disparities Data and Publications

Healthy Homes

Healthy Connecticut 2020

Maternal and Child Health

Office of Health Care Access

Office of Oral Health

Office of Primary Care

Refugee and Immigrant Health Program

Primary Care Office

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Tuberculosis

 

New and Noteworthy

ASTHO releases "Health Equity and Public Health Department Accreditation(November 2018)

This report highlights examples of state health agencies' activities linked to promoting system-wide approaches that serve toward prioritizing health equity and fulfilling certain Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) Domains.

HHS finalizes rule to improve health equity under the Affordable Care Act (May 13, 2016)

Final rule prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability; enhances language assistance for individuals with limited English proficiency; and protects individuals with disabilities.

For more information about this rule, including factsheets on key provisions and frequently asked questions, visit http://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/section-1557.


For more information, please contact:
Connecticut Department of Public Health
Office of Health Equity
410 Capitol Avenue, MS#13PHSI, Hartford, CT 06134
Phone: (860) 509-7140
 
We would like to hear from you! Please send us your comments via e-mail to dphhealthequity@ct.gov.