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2013 Health Equity and Cultural Competency Mini-Grants

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2013 - 2014 
Mini-Grant Summary

In support of its mission to promote health equity for all Virginians, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH)'s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE) annually awards funding in the form of mini-grants to local health districts in support of cultural competency and diversity related activities. 

In 2013, mini-grants ranging from $500 to $3,500 were awarded for the purpose of funding health equity and cultural competency activities within local health districts. 

The 2013 Mini-Grant Recipients included:
Alexandria Health Department
Prince William Health District
Central Virginia Health District
 Roanoke City Health Department 
Chesterfield Health District
Peninsula Health District
Portsmouth Health Department
Central Shenandoah Health District
Chesapeake Health District 
Chickahominy Health District
Three Rivers Health District
 Hampton Health District 
Eastern Shore Health District 
New River Health District
Richmond City Health District

Local health districts utilized the funding for a variety of activities and services, including: 

Health Equity Community Events
Human Trafficking Awareness Training
Medical Interpreter Certification 
Portable Translators
Diversity and Cultural Competency Training
Language Lines and Medical Interpreting Services

Read on to learn how the 2013 Health Equity and Cultural Competency Mini-Grants were utilized and for information on the New 2014 Mini-Grant Application!

Human Trafficking Awareness for Public Health Professionals - Central Shenandoah Health District

Deborah Bundy CarpenterAs a growing public health concern, it is becoming increasingly important for health professionals to be able to identify, support and service coordination for victims of human trafficking. In an effort to educate staff and increase their awareness of this issue, Central Shenandoah Health District used their mini-grant to host a training session on human trafficking. The event included presentations by Duke University School of Nursing doctoral student, Lynn Eggert, and Stacy Jewell Lewis, a trafficking survivor and advocate against trafficking. The session addressed such topics as the definition of human trafficking, the estimated prevalence worldwide and nationally, stories regarding the different ways people are trafficked, signs and clues that a person may be trafficked and strategies for interventions by health professionals if human trafficking is suspected. Staff in attendance expressed amazement at the level of trafficking in their own area. District Nurse Manager Deborah Bundy-Carpenter reported on the event, stating, "The presentations increased awareness and knowledge of how we as public health professionals can be more attuned to our surroundings and possible victims of trafficking." 

Portable Translators Available to Address Language Needs During Potential Disasters
- Central Virginia Health District

translatorKeeping emergency preparedness in mind, Central Virginia Health District purchased six portable translator devices using the mini-grant funding. The new translators have the ability to translate in 14 languages and can be easily carried and transferred in times of need. The translators allow users to choose from a pre-programmed list of phrases or type words to be translated to a chosen language. Staff of CVHD anticipates the translators will be highly effective in providing mass medication distribution in an emergency situation, as they will allow health professionals to communicate with individuals of culturally diverse backgrounds. District Nurse Manager Wanda A. Guthrie-Fields spoke to the potential uses of the translators, stating, "[The new translators] translate phrases and during an emergency or disaster, this function would be very helpful. Not all questions are medical related, and these devices are not medically oriented."

Diversity Training Enhances Communication - Peninsula Health District

Peninsula Health District utilized the mini-grant to organize a training focused around improving awareness of diversity issues and interaction skills among staff. Michelle Manfred and Tony Farley from Thomas Nelson Community College's Workforce Development Center presented the training, titled "Discovering Diversity Profile Assessment and Interpretation" to 94 Peninsula Health District staff members. Participants were given strategies to use when working with diverse clients as well as colleagues. One participant stated, "This training was beneficial in that it has increased my awareness of my own incorrect presumptions about individuals from some cultures, and the importance of remaining sensitive and respectful of all those we serve. Some recent interactions with foreign-born students since we received this training include two from Jamaica and one from Ghana. These interactions went extremely well, and there was a high-level of mutual respect demonstrated."

Cultural Competentency Customer Service Training and Health Equity -
Focused Teen Pregnancy Prevention Event - Portsmouth Health Department

Training TeamThe Portsmouth Health Department (PHD) used a portion of their mini-grant for a staff training titled "Culturally Competent Customer Service." The training was provided by Tidewater Community College Division of Workforce Development and was attended by approximately 50 PHD staff members. PHD Health Director David Chang reported on the effectiveness of the session, stating, "The training for staff opened up lines of communication between several departments related to providing care to patients." 

In Portsmouth, teen pregnancy is an issue that disproportionately affects the community's young women. In an effort to promote health equity, the PHD also utilized a portion of the mini-grant to host a community event focused on teen pregnancy prevention. The event was targeted towards low-income African American teens and included a "Wellness Day" where young women learned about abstinence, birth control methods and sexually transmitted infection prevention through fun and innovative games. During the event, participants received healthy snacks, pamphlets and letters on resource information to share with their parents. Approximately 50 teens attended the event. 

Medical Interpreters Provide Service in Refugee Mental Health Screenings
- Roanoke City Health Department

With an eye for the health opportunity of Roanoke's growing refugee population, Roanoke City Health Department utilized the mini-grant to provide interpreters for refugees referred for mental health screenings. Department Nurse Manager Lee Wonson reported on Roanoke's focus for the funding, stating, "Equal access to mental health services for all continues to be a challenge in the refugee community when interpreters must be hired to facilitate communication between parties. This funding for interpreters opens the door and allows refugees in need access to quality care." Wonson continued, "We are certain that funds such as these will continue to be needed in the future as arrivals return to their typical levels. As the Mental Health Council continues to meet and make plans for enhanced mental health services for refugees, we have received word from resettlement staff that in the future more refugees will be arriving in need of mental health services." 

Medical Interpreters Support Provision of Health Services - Chesterfield Health District,
Chesapeake Health District, Chickahominy Health District, Three Rivers Health District,
Eastern Shore Health District

Certified medical interpreters are an important resource in providing culturally competent care. Several health districts utilized funding to hire or certify current staff as medical interpreters to provide translating services to diverse patients. 

  • Chesterfield Health District - At Chesterfield Health District, two Spanish-speaking employees successfully completed coursework for medical interpreter certification. The medical interpreter certification course is a 40 hour course which includes an English proficiency pre-test. Nurse Manager Jeannine Uzel estimated that the medical interpreters provided service to 1200 individuals over the course of the year. 
  • Chesapeake Health District - Chesapeake Health District utilized the mini-grant for medical interpreting services in their clinics. Services were provided for an estimated five consumers on 19 occasions in the past year. 
  • Chickahominy Health District - Chickahominy Health District utilized a contracted medical interpreter for Maternity and Family Planning appointments. In the absence of the interpreter, a language line also purchased through the mini-grant was used. 
  • Three Rivers Health District - Three Rivers Health District (TRHD) utilized both language lines and a contracted medical interpreter to serve 189 patients in the last year. Nurse Manager Linda Lee noted that in-person medical interpreters were superior and surprisingly more cost effective than the language lines. TRHD's maternity clinic is in a building not optimally designed for accessing a phone, and time was needed to get each patient and various practitioners to the phone to coordinate interpretation. In contrast, the TRHD's medical interpreter acted as a team member at the clinics. The interpreter assisted nurses with individual intakes and histories and was there for interpretation in the examination room but could also help in the facilitation of group educational sessions. In all, the medical interpreter provided service and flexibility that the language lines could not. 
  • Eastern Shore Health District - Eastern Shore Health District utilized the mini-grant to begin the early stages of medical interpreting certification for two staff members. The staff members completed the pre-requisite to the medical interpreting certification program and hope to obtain certification soon. 

Language Lines Provide Interpreter Services Across Commonwealth

Language lines with telephonic interpreter services are another way local health districts can offer interpretation for diverse patients. Several districts utilized funding for provision of this resource; including, Alexandria Health Department, Prince William Health District, Chesterfield Health District, Hampton Health District, Eastern Shore Health District, New River Health District and Richmond City Health District. 

Total Patients Served: 

Languages Translated: 
Spanish, Arabic, Amharic, Bengali, Farsi, French, Tigrinyan, Afghani, Mandarin, 
Vietnamese, Nepali, Pashto, Burmese, Haitian Creole, Misteco, Somali

Applications for the 2014 Health Equity and Cultural Competency Mini-Grants are now being accepted! 

This year, a total of $20,000 in mini-grants with a maximum award of $3000 will be available to local health districts to fund cultural competency and diversity related activities. Applications must be received by September 12, 2014, and local health districts will be notified of award decisions by September 22, 2014

2014 Health Equity and Cultural Competency Mini-Grant Application Instructions 

109 Governor Street, Suite 1016E · 804.854.7435
For more information on CLAS resources and initiatives, please contact: 
Marilyn Breslow, OMHHE CLAS Specialist
(804) 864-7438

Last Updated: 09-03-2014

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