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COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force

A Partnership Between The City of Worcester's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and UMass Memorial Healthcare (UMMHC)

This Task Force aims to deeply review the systemic racial and other inequities that inflict our healthcare system and are intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to address these systemic barriers, the Task Force calls to elevate equity-focused solutions in response to short and long-term needs. The COVID-19 Equity Task Force will leverage resources to address systemic barriers to health equity and provide access for all, through a cross-sectoral partnership.

The COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force is committed to supporting all communities of color. However, it is important to note that the data specifically highlights increased COVID-19 impact in Black and Latino populations; therefore, these communities are the group's primary focus.

  • Prioritize transparent and collaborative data collection, sharing, analysis and reporting.
  • Promote intentional outreach, education and mitigation strategies for prevention and access to healthcare services for the City's communities of color, specifically Black and Latino populations.
  • Pursue targeted and accessible testing in a data-driven manner focusing on highest affected neighborhoods, communities of color, immigrant communities and institutional/housing settings.
  • Increase access to culturally competent and accessible treatment, including participation in clinical trials rooted in social justice.
  • Identify and address those Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) that contribute significantly to the disparities faced by communities of color.
  • Make a series of recommendations for the City, health care entities and other community stakeholders to mitigate issues and barriers identified.

Working Groups

Based off the Task Force's overall goals previously listed, four working groups emerged; each of the working groups are led in partnership by Health and Human Services, community leaders and UMMHC leaders. Each group is listed below with their statement of purpose and goals.

Statement of Purpose:

Identify and assess barriers to access equitable health care; propose solutions and action steps that can mitigate these challenges to better support communities of color in Worcester with their healthcare.

Goals:

  • Identify barrier to access in equitable healthcare.
  • Determine solutions to identified barriers.
  • Recommend action steps to implement solutions and mitigate barriers.

Statement of Purpose:

To identify, reduce and eliminate racial health inequities or disparities to effectively address COVID-19 prevention and treatment in the Worcester, Massachusetts community, specifically communities of color, by collecting and providing analysis using valid race, ethnicity, language, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and social determinants of health data.

Goals:

  • Provide the COVID-19 Equity Task Force and its subgroups with up-to-date and accurate COVID-19 infection data, focused on information pertaining to social determinants of health and disparate burden of disease on communities of color to highlight areas with greatest opportunity for intervention.

Statement of Purpose:

Identify, reduce and eliminate health disparities to effectively address COVID-19 prevention and treatment in the Worcester, Massachusetts community by providing materials, tools and resources to promote the adoption of preventative measures.

Goals:

  • Develop a robust network of "trusted messengers" to make information and resources truly accessible.
  • Distribute educational communication, masks and FAQs.
  • Distribute in-home quarantine FAQ.
  • Distribute outside-home quarantine FAQ through outreach.
  • Use data and CRP to drive distribution of materials and outreach.
  • Provide prevention resources.

Statement of Purpose:

Evaluate and revise current testing criteria and strategy based on demographic and geographic data to develop equitable testing strategy for Black and Latino communities, who have the highest impact, including who gets tested when, where, how and by whom; Stabilize supply chain to match testing strategy.

Goals:

  • Acquire funding for testing.
  • Determine equitable testing strategy based on demographic and geographic data provided by Data Working Group.
  • Test impacted communities.
  • Recommend policy and practices that increase access to testing.

Resources

Partner Organizations

The Task Force is comprised of a diverse and representative group of over 56 leaders from all segments of the community and the health care system. Those leaders represent 22 different organizations and agencies listed below.

  • The City of Worcester Department of Health and Human Services
  • UMass Memorial Health Care
  • Central West Justice Center
  • Century Homecare LLC
  • City Councilor River
  • Coalition for Healthy Greater Worcester
  • Community Health Link
  • Congressman McGovern's Office
  • Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center
  • Family Health Center
  • Greater Worcester Foundation
  • Hanover Medical Group
  • Harvard University
  • Latino Education Institute
  • Promoting Good
  • Renaissance Medical Group
  • Southeast Asian Coalition
  • UMass Medical School
  • United Way
  • Worcester Coalition for Education Equity
  • Worcester Interfaith
  • YWCA

Contact Information

Health & Human Services
City Hall Room 101
455 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01608

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Phone: 508-799-8486
Fax: 508-799-1218
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8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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