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Oct. 26, 2012 OHA Director's messages on the web
To: All OHA employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., Director

Reducing health disparities – local communities point the way

"The future depends on what you do today." ~Mahatma Gandhi

  Holden Leung and Dr. Goldberg
Holden Leung, CEO of the Asian Health and Service Center (left), with Dr. Goldberg at the recent AHSC dinner in Portland.

Good health and access to health care shouldn't depend on your ZIP code – or your income, your race, your gender, your ethnicity or the language you speak. However, we know that there are unfortunate disparities in health and the way people experience care in Oregon. We may not be responsible for creating health inequities, but we must all be committed to eliminating them. And we are working hard to do just that.

The legislation that created coordinated care organizations calls for reducing health disparities. It also requires that this goal be an integral part of our transformation efforts. We can find great examples of this work already in our local communities.

Last week I saw the importance of such community work when I had the honor of attending the Asian Health and Service Center dinner in Portland. The center has been at the forefront of increasing access to health care and reducing health disparities in the community for nearly three decades. Much like a coordinated care organization, the center seeks to achieve better health and better care at lower costs for the communities it serves.

By providing services in a culturally appropriate setting, the center helps to overcome the cultural and language barriers that can prevent people from getting the care they need when they need it. For example, the center's behavioral health clinic is staffed by multilingual providers and outreach workers who connect clients with primary care providers and local resources.

The center also expands its reach beyond what happens in a medical office by providing senior lunches, case management and community education workshops. Its Asian Wellness Program coordinates care for clients from local clinics by offering chronic disease management, social services and coordination with mental health care providers.

Locally directed community-based care with an emphasis on prevention and reducing health disparities: This is what the future of care should look like for all of us.

OHA on the web