CP32 - The Role of Community Health Centers in Removing Barriers for Latinx Patients to Mobilize for Health Equity During the Pandemic
Poster Type: Innovation
Category: Patient and Community Engagement
Issue or Challenge: Latinx communities are continuously among the least civically engaged communities throughout the U.S.. Limited economic opportunity and exclusion of low-income residents of color in decision-making exacerbate inequity in these neighborhoods, resulting in the growth of health and social disparities. AltaMed believes that Civic engagement is the vehicle through which working-class residents of color can be partners in changing the conditions that create health disparities in our communities. The COVID-19 pandemic brought additional challenges to sustaining civic engagement among hard-to-reach communities and simultaneously increased the need for them to be equitably represented in mobilization efforts (Montiel et al., 2020).
Description of Innovation: In January 2021, amidst the pandemic, AltaMed launched the Community Organizing Institute (COI) in an effort to build community power and tackle the lack of civic engagement amongst the populations that we serve. AltaMed believes that in order to truly address health disparities, the community must be at the center of all initiatives and be valued as partners at every step of design and implementation. This project leveraged popular education (Friere, 1996) and community participatory action strategies (Wallerstein & Duran, 2006) to engage patients in the co-development of a health equity agenda, advocacy planning, and development of community roundtables to express and address their concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the summer of 2020, AltaMed surveyed a group of patients to assess their experiences and priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients were subsequently invited to discuss the results of the assessment and provide input on the design of a community education series. To further build capacity amongst patients and community members, AltaMed also launched the Advocacy and Leadership Academy(ALA) which was a 5-week curriculum designed to train participants in skills related to local, state and federal advocacy. In response to the engagement in these 2 opportunities, we launched the Community Organizing Institute(COI) with the intention of forming a community organizing group to mobilize around policy, systems, and environmental change campaigns to advance health equity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COI serves as an opportunity for continued engagement of community members, patients and ALA graduates in direct advocacy.
Impact or Result: 35 residents improved their capacity to advocate locally and engage in long-term policy, systems, and environmental change. AltaMed improved its capacity to partner with community members and patients on community-led solutions to social determinants of health. AltaMed built infrastructure of a Community Organizing Institute composed of the Academy graduates and other community members.
Replicating this Innovation: Create concrete opportunities for patients to engage with and within the health system to advance health equity. AltaMed has a training curriculum for its advocacy and leadership academy. Launching a Develop a process for patient-led agenda-setting around priority issues. Invest time in preparing patients to improve their readiness to engage, and provide a dedicated staff member whose role is to sustain this engagement.
Noemi Mendez, Community Health Impact Project Coordinator, AltaMed Health Services Corporation
Corina Martinez, MS, Community Health Impact Manager, AltaMed Health Services Corporation