A Partnership Between The City of Worcester's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and UMass Memorial Healthcare (UMMHC)
This partnership was initially formed in 2020 as the COVID-19 Health Equity Taskforce to deeply review the systemic racial and other inequities that inflict our healthcare system and were intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of 2023, the Task Force evolved to examine health inequities more broadly, including those related to other infectious disease.
In order to address these systemic barriers, the Task Force calls to elevate equity-focused solutions in response to short and long-term needs. It will leverage resources to address systemic barriers to health equity and provide access for all, through a cross-sectoral partnership.
The Health Equity Task Force is committed to supporting all communities of color. However, it is important to note that the data specifically highlights increased 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.
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.
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.
Identify barrier to access in equitable healthcare.
Determine solutions to identified barriers.
Recommend action steps to implement solutions and mitigate barriers.
To identify, reduce and eliminate racial health inequities or disparities 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.
Provide the Equity Task Force and its subgroups with up-to-date and accurate 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.
Identify, reduce and eliminate health disparities to effectively address prevention and treatment in the Worcester, Massachusetts community by providing materials, tools and resources to promote the adoption of preventative measures.
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.
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.
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.
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
Latino Education Institute
Renaissance Medical Group
Southeast Asian Coalition
UMass Medical School
Worcester Coalition for Education Equity
Health & Human Services City Hall Room 101 455 Main Street Worcester, MA 01608