$4M health literacy grant will benefit racial and ethnic minorities in Washington County

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Sponsored by: Health and Human Services Department, Public Health Division

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health has announced an award of $3,998,575 to Washington County as part of a $250 million two-year initiative to identify and implement best practices for improving health literacy to enhance COVID-19 vaccination and other mitigation practices among underserved populations. The Advancing Health Literacy (AHL) to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19 initiative is part of the Biden/Harris Administration’s National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.

Washington County is the only organization in Oregon and one of just three in the Pacific Northwest to receive a grant through this initiative.

Health literacy is a person’s ability to find, understand and use information and services to help them make health-related decisions for themselves and others. Health literacy is a central focus of the Healthy People 2030 blueprint for improving the health of the nation, which is sponsored by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health. Healthy People 2030 has elevated health literacy within one of its overarching goals: Eliminate health disparities, achieve health equity, and attain health literacy to improve the health and well-being of all.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted communities of color at a disproportionate rate,” said Washington County Health Equity, Planning and Policy Program Supervisor Phyusin Myint, Ph.D. “The importance of health literacy, of understanding public health measures and taking steps to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities, cannot be overstated. This award will greatly enhance Washington County’s health literacy efforts to reduce COVID-related disparities within racial and ethnic minority populations and other groups impacted by inequities.”

Over the next two years, Washington County will work with community-based organizations (CBOs) Adelante Mujeres, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center and Familias en Acción said. “We are thrilled to be joining forces once again with these three amazing community-based organizations to move the needle on health literacy among our communities of color and other impacted groups.”

Specifically, Washington County has three main objectives:

  1. Increase the community health worker (CHW) workforce by directly supporting CHW with funding to build their capacity to train and CBOs employ sustainably who will enhance personal health literacy among Hispanic/Latino/a/x communities. COVID-19 training modules focused on evidence-based health literacy intervention strategies will be developed and implemented.
     
  2. Implement a learning collaborative for Washington County, CHWs, CBOs and health systems partners to share best practices, lessons learned, and streamline feedback regarding COVID-19 health literacy interventions to enhance personal and organizational health literacy. The collaborative will integrate CHWs from meetings to improve access and use of COVID-19 services and resources to improve outcomes for Hispanic and Latino/a/x communities.
     
  3. Integrate health literacy learnings into health care systems.

Washington County will partner with external evaluators from AB Cultural Drivers and Coalition of Communities of Color who are committed to multicultural perspectives, quality improvement and community engagement to systematically broaden authentic participation and inclusion. They will inform evaluation tool creation and implementation, gather and analyze data, and generate impartial evaluation reports throughout the funded project to guide ongoing improvements.

For more information about this work, contact Health Equity, Planning and Policy Program Supervisor Phyusin Myint at 503-846-3626.

Media Contact:

Wendy Gordon, Dept. Communications Coordinator
503-849-9117
wendy_gordon@co.washington.or.us