177018 Building Linguistic Capacity: A Health Department's Response to Key Recommendations from a Countywide Baseline Assessment of Linguistic Access

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Doris Y. Estremera-Rohleder, MPH , San Mateo County Health Department, San Mateo, CA
Besem Obenson, MBA, MPH , Senior Community Health Planner, San Mateo County Health Department, San Mateo, CA
Scott Morrow, MD, MPH , Health Officer, San Mateo County Health System, San Mateo, CA
Background: Organizations have long conducted assessments of their level of cultural and linguistic competence to inform planning efforts. However, few counties have conducted countywide assessments. In August 2006, the San Mateo County Health Department (SMCHD) conducted a countywide assessment which served to both identify high priority areas and strategies for improving linguistic access and provide a baseline against which to measure future improvement efforts. Since the release of the study results the SMCHD has taken several steps to internally address the study's key findings and recommendations for the organization.

Objective: To implement key recommendations for improving access to Health Department services for limited English proficient (LEP) populations.

Methods: A multi-disciplinary Health Disparities Initiatives Oversight (HDIO) group was formed and includes leadership representation from each SMCHD Division. HDIO has provided guidance in implementation of the study results and evaluation strategies including development of an 18-month Action Plan intended to address key findings of the baseline assessment and monitor progress.

Results: A set of Health Department-tailored standards, policies and protocols related to culturally and linguistically appropriate services were developed. The policies are both comprehensive and practical and accomplished through the collaboration and input from managers and front line staff and an assessment of availability and quality of existing language resources including the linguistic diversity of staff. In addition, SMCHD has implemented capacity building strategies in areas and populations identified by the study as our greatest linguistic access gaps and established a local “clearinghouse” of training opportunities, self-assessment tools, and other resources.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify at least two strategies a local Health Department can implement to improve access to services for limited English proficient (LEP) population. 2. Discuss the Cultural & Linguistic Competency Standards adopted by a local Health Department. 3. Describe the process an organization can apply to develop comprehensive and practical policies and protocols needed to ensure that LEP clients receive quality services and materials in their primary language.

Keywords: Access, Health Departments

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have oversight responsibilities for the Linguistic Access Initiative of our health deparmtnet. I have been involved in the planning and implementation of the content being presented.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.