A few weeks ago, CPEHN wrapped up our fall convening series, A Blueprint for Health: Planning Communities that Promote Equity in Los Angeles and San Diego. Over 100 advocates, planners, and local governmental staff engaged the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) on the importance of including health and equity in the newly released draft statewide general plan guidelines. These convenings were space for community advocates to provide direct feedback and comments to OPR staff on how the plan guidelines can be incorporate localized community engagement strategies and fostering more equitable development.
Allison Allbee from our partner organization Changelab Solutions presented in both Los Angeles and San Diego about the context of how important the state’s general plan guidelines can be for local development and how communities can get involved in the process.
Dr. Elizabeth Baca from OPR also presented about what the new draft guidelines currently include. She especially focused on specific sections concerning public engagement, healthy communities and social equity. These chapters can be read by clicking on the links below.
The American Lung Association State of the Air 2015 report, released last week, showed that while progress has been made, California continues to have some of the worst air pollution in the country. In fact, 28 million Californians live in counties where ozone or particle pollution levels can make the air unhealthy to breathe. (Click on the map to enlarge.)
Covering air pollution data from 2011-2013, State of the Air 2015 shows that California cities still dominate lists for the most polluted areas in the nation for ozone (smog) as well as short-term and annual particle pollution (soot). Several cities had both higher year round averages and unhealthy days on average of particle pollution driven largely by drought weather conditions.
Specifically, of the top ten cities in the nation with the worst air pollution, California metropolitan areas rank as follows:
CPEHN hosted its final Focus on Equity: Communities of Color in Post-ACA California convening series today in San Diego. Like our previous three events, this one focused on Health for All efforts to expand access to affordable coverage to everyone regardless of immigration status, strategies to integrate behavioral and physical health services, and ways to include equity considerations when evaluating and improving health care quality.
Marty Adelman from the Council of Community Clinics started things off with a presentation on current behavioral health integration efforts in San Diego. He stressed that integrating behavioral health and primary care services can improve both components by reducing stigma, closing the mortality gap, and limiting costs.
Adelman: behavioral health integration can combat stigma by meeting people in the community http://t.co/e3Qv1eGzJ6
Over 3.5 million Californians have enrolled in new coverage options since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), yet persistent health disparities remain among communities of color, immigrants, and Limited English Proficient populations. Join CPEHN and our partners for Focus on Equity: Communities of Color in a Post-ACA California, as we highlight opportunities to advance equity in 2015 and beyond. Topics will include:
Health for All: There will be updates on the progress of SB 4 (Lara), the Health for All Act, and we will feature why it’s necessary to ensure that all Californians can access health coverage, regardless of immigration status. There will also be information on how you can take action and have your voice be heard in support of SB 4 and other efforts to improve access to health coverage for immigrants across the state.
Integration of behavioral health in primary care: We will hear about why treating behavioral health and physical health in an integrated manner will help improve care in both fields.
The importance of equity in measuring the quality of health care: While the health care system approach to quality is focused on the “triple aim” of population health, patient experience, and costs, we will show why it’s necessary to include a fourth aim: equity.
Our convenings are interactive events that allow participants to participate in important health policy discussions. We’ll feature important policy proposals and how our communities can mobilize in support of them. We value the opportunity to travel throughout the state and hear different perspectives on all the critical health issues impacting California’s communities of color. It’d be great if you can join us and share your thoughts!
Language access in our health care system has long been a point of emphasis for our work at CPEHN. For example, in 2003, CPEHN sponsored SB 853 (Escutia), the Health Care Language Assistance Act. The first of its kind in the country, this law now holds health plans accountable for the provision of linguistically-appropriate services.
The reason that laws like SB 853 and other language access measures are necessary is because of California’s uniquely diverse population. As you can see in our Friday Facts table, over 40 different languages are spoken in San Diego County alone.
San Diego County has a large (92,836) Tagalog-speaking population, and roughly 2 out of every 5 of these individuals are Limited English Proficient (LEP), meaning they speak English less than very well. Almost two-thirds of the county’s large Vietnamese-speaking population is LEP, as is half of all those who speak Chinese. The county is also home to over 320,000 Spanish-speakers who are LEP.
Such large numbers of LEP individuals in San Diego County shows the importance of providing linguistically accessible services. Navigating the health care system is challenging enough when you receive services in your primary language, imagine how difficult it would be with a language barrier.
CPEHN hosted its third town hall meeting today in San Diego to discuss the California Reducing Disparities Project draft Statewide Strategic Plan to Reduce Mental Health Disparities. Dozens of mental health professionals, advocates, and community members gathered at the Sherman Heights Community Center to discuss the plan, which will establish priorities and recommendations for addressing mental health disparities throughout California’s communities of colors and LGBTQ population.
As in the first two meetings in Fresno and Oakland, the crowd appreciated the opportunity to comment on the plan. Many wanted to make sure that programs supported through the strategic plan have the necessary resources to be sustainable beyond the four-year pilot project. And like the other meetings, cultural competency was a recurring theme, with many pointing out the need for more Spanish-language resources in the Latino population.
Another key focus was on the importance of affirming all identities. In particular, some LGBTQ people of color identify as their race/ethnicity first and then as LGBTQ, so it is important that mental health providers (and all health providers) recognize and affirm each of these identities in order to effectively meet their needs.