The Oklahoma initiative to address COVID-19 health disparities among populations at high risk and underserved will address COVID-19 and advance health equity. The goal of this project is to reduce the burden of COVID-19 among populations disproportionately affected; The purpose of the project is to?establish a statewide coordinated effort that supports community-based strategies to reduce health disparities and achieve equity by establishing a?sustainable?infrastructure to address the root causes of Oklahoma?s historic and systemic health inequities.? The plan includes the?development?of a?central leadership-level statewide Office of?Minority Health and?Health Equity?(OMHHE) to coordinate and provide technical assistance to community-based enabling professionals, public health workforce, and health care providers. With this funding, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) will seek to establish new relationships with non-traditional partners while supporting the work of long-standing partners with demonstrated capacity for reducing health disparities, addressing social determinants, and improving health indicators and outcomes. The project will begin with a planning period (June 1, 2021-September 1, 2021) during which the OSDH?s Community Development Service will engage stakeholders to collaboratively assess need, address identified disproportionate impacts of COVID-19, and create a statewide vision for health equity. The proposal supports new and existing funding relationships with state and local organizations that provide services to populations placed at higher risk and who are medically underserved. These populations include racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural communities who are at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure, infection, hospitalization, and mortality. During the planning period, the OSDH will facilitate a plan to support communities as they work to remove barriers and improve the risks factors of p
opulations disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The initiative will support strategies to reduce disproportionate rates of chronic diseases that increase the severity of COVID-19 infection and will remove barriers to accessing testing, treatment, or vaccination against COVID-19. The?proposal provides funding and workforce development resources to?support COVID response and health equity efforts of city-county health departments, county health departments, community health centers, community and faith-based organizations, Tribal health facilities? strategies to address COVID-19 impact and health care needs, and rural safety-net providers. Specific projects include support for an OMHHE internship in partnership with Langston University, a Historically Black University (HBCU) with an established course of study in health equity. This proposal will also provide funds to local county health departments and?community-based safety net providers?for recruitment, retention and professional development for social workers, health educators, community outreach specialists, care coordinators, and health care providers. These professionals will receive support as they commit to engaging with?rural and minority?communities?increase access to primary?care?and preventive services and?local emergency response efforts. The intended outcomes include: 1) Reduced health disparities exaggerated by COVID-19. 2)?Improved and increased testing and contact tracing among populations at higher risk and that are underserved, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural communities. 3)?Improved?capacity and services to prevent and control COVID-19 infection (or transmission) among populations at higher risk and that are underserved, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural communities, and 4) Reduce factors that place ethnic minorities and rural populations at greater health risk.