Health Share of Oregon gives more than $350,000 to local organizations in support of community health efforts

Funded projects focus on culturally-specific services for behavioral health and chronic diseases.

Health Share of Oregon has announced more than $350,000 in grants to four community-based organizations in the Tri-County area for projects supporting the Coordinated Care Organization’s Community Health Improvement Plan. 

This past June regional community-based organizations submitted proposals which would address behavioral health (mental health and substance abuse disorders) and chronic diseases which are preventable through physical activity and nutrition objectives, the primary focus areas of Health Share’s Community Health Improvement Plan. Health Share was particularly interested in proposals from organizations with experience providing culturally-specific services and with experience training or working with traditional health workers.

The grant evaluation team consisted of representatives from Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties; Health Share members; health care professional who are or who work with Peer Support and Community Health Workers; community members who represent culturally diverse populations across the Tri-County area; and Health Share staff.

“The Community Health Improvement Plan offers Health Share the opportunity to partner with key organizations on improving health outcomes for our members,” said Janet Meyer, Health Share CEO, “These initiatives will focus in large part on the work of culturally-specific community health workers and peer support specialists. We can’t just focus on the individuals in a clinical or office setting. We have to move further out into the community to support health in our members' families and neighborhoods.”

The following Community-Based Organizations were awarded grants:

Northwest Family Services: Serving Clackamas & Multnomah Counties. Audience: Hispanic/Latino. Focus: Behavioral Health Objectives.

NWFS and NAMI-CC will work to provide education and outreach in the Latino and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Intersex (LGBTQI) communities through peer resources, peer support workers, and host group culturally specific discussions on mental health and addiction issues with cultural specific and competent staff. Project activities will include increasing the number of Peer Support Specialists (PSS) in the greater Portland Metropolitan area, including those who are bilingual/bicultural Latino and those who identify with the LGBTQI community. Trainers will also offer mental health specific trainings to expand the number of PSS who can support Health Share members who identify as people of color, who speak a preferred language other than English, who identify as LGBTQI, who have a disability or are young or elderly, or who have been diagnosed with a severe persistent mental illness. In addition, NAMI-CC will hire a full-time Latino, bilingual PSS worker and significantly expand the hours of a current staff member who identifies as LGBTQI .NWFS and NAMI-CC will institute the 12-week class series to the Latino communities within Clackamas and Multnomah Counties. De Familia a Familia is a program of NAMI and is available in English and Spanish.

North by Northeast Community Health Services: Serving Multnomah County. Audience: African-American. Focus: Chronic Disease Objectives.

North by Northeast Community Health Services (NxNE) will expand their Community Health Worker (CHW) program in the effort to improve the health of African-American patients and eliminate health disparities. CHWs help patients identify barriers to health improvement, set goals, understand medication regimens and adhere to follow-up plans. In addition to hiring and an additional full-time CHW and expanding the number of patients assigned to their CHW program, NxNE will continue to focus on African-American patients with hypertension. They’ll include African-American patients with other conditions such as obesity and diabetes, complex care coordination needs and/or multiple specialty referrals. NxNE staff will also be expanding their partnerships with other community-based organizations by using CHWs to coordinate intake for underserved populations. In particular, a) Corrections Health and Community Justice to ease the transition into primary care for African Americans released from incarceration, b) low-income housing organizations (Home Forward, NW Housing Alternatives) to ensure their residents newly covered by OHP have a primary care home, and c) other healthcare service providers (Planned Parenthood’s NE Portland Center, Cascadia’s Garlington Clinic) whose clients need a primary care home.

Center for Intercultural Organizing: Serving: Washington County. Audience: Asian/Pacific Islander, Latino, Russian-speaking, war torn regions of Africa & Middle East. Focus: Behavioral Health Objectives.

The Margins to Mainstream project is a collaboration that centers around developing and employing a trained base of immigrant and refugee “wellness life guides,” or traditional health workers/organizers—assisted and supported by a team of social service agencies, community based organizations, and health care providers—that aid newcomers in acquiring the facilitative and communicative skills necessary to interact, understand, and cope with their needs in relation to their adopted environment, and work collaboratively toward institutional change. Wellness life guides will address the psychosocial health needs of immigrants and refugees on an individual level through mentorship and support and through referrals to culturally appropriate services, while providing breakthrough learning on a community level through group processes that connect individual issues to community and systemic issues.

Familias en Acción: Serving Clackamas, Washington & Multnomah Counties. Audience: Hispanic/Latino. Focus: Chronic Disease Objectives.

The Familias en Acción program will provide the CHW program, Senderos Hacía su Salud/Pathways to Your Health, for Hispanic members of Health Share. A Community Health Worker will conduct an initial intake with the client/family utilizing the Community Pathways to Health model to establish priorities for a comprehensive care coordination plan linking healthcare with family and community support resources utilizing the Community Health Access Pathways model. Familias will partner with Providence to serve their Medicaid clients in all three counties at their clinics in Portland, Gateway, Scholls and St. Vincents. The American Cancer Society cancer patient navigators will refer patients from OHSU and Legacy. Project Access NOW through their extensive network of volunteer clinics and hospitals will partner closely with Familias to enhance access to Health Share members.

Community Health Improvement Plan
As a part of health care transformation in Oregon, the Oregon Health Authority asked the 16 Coordinated Care Organizations throughout the state to collaboratively engage in a systematic approach to assessing the health of the populations they cover and the communities those populations live in, and then planning to improve the health of those communities by addressing health disparities.

After nearly a year of inquiry and analysis, Health Share’s Community Health Needs Assessment (CHA) Committee, a subset of the Community Advisory Council (CAC), designated Behavioral Health and Chronic Disease as the two priorities for focus in Health Share’s Community Health Improvement Plan.

The goal of the Community Health Improvement Plan is to reduce health disparities, promote health equity and improve overall population health in the region served by the CCO. The Improvement Plan supports strategies that are intended to benefit the broad Tri-County community with particular focus on issues that disproportionately impact Health Share members, and is funded through State of Oregon Transformation Funds, which are dedicated to innovative projects aimed at improving integration and coordination of care for Medicaid patients.

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