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Delta Health System to receive health literacy grant to tackle COVID-19 Spread

Published on Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Delta Health System has received a federal grant that will work to improve health literacy and enhance vaccination across the Delta.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) has announced an award of $3 Million to Washington County, as a part of a $250 million two-year initiative to identify and implement best practices for improving health literacy to enhance COVID-19 vaccination and other mitigation practices among underserved populations.

“Delta Health System is honored and proud to coordinate and spearhead all the organizations involved with such a prestigious grant and will work with all our partners to increase clinical care access throughout the Delta,” said Scott Christensen, Chief Executive Officer, Delta Health System.

The Advancing Health Literacy (AHL) to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19 initiative is part of the Biden/Harris Administration’s National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.

  “The Advancing Health Literacy initiative is a vital part of the HHS efforts to help communities hardest hit by the pandemic access and understand COVID-related information,” said Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Rachel L. Levine, M.D. “This funding, and the partnerships with local and community entities across the country, will help our national efforts to continue to tackle health disparities surrounding COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and treatment.”

The award to fight COVID-19 requires collaborations between organizations sharing responsibilities such as the Washington County Board of Supervisors, Delta Health System, Aaron E. Henry Community Health Center, Mississippi Valley State University, and the Mississippi State Department of Health. 

Other ancillary groups will also be involved as the work moves forward.

Eleven rural counties are included in the Literacy Grant: Bolivar, Coahoma, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Sharkey, Sunflower, Quitman, Tate, Tunica and Washington.

Health literacy is a person’s ability to find, understand and use information and services to help them make health-related decisions for themselves and others.

Health literacy is a central focus of the Healthy People 2030 blueprint for improving the health of the nation, which is sponsored by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health.

Healthy People 2030 has elevated health literacy within one of its overarching goals: Eliminate health disparities, achieve health equity, and attain health literacy to improve the health and well-being of all.

 “Receiving this grant to educate individuals about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine is a huge achievement in the process in providing basic healthcare access to our rural and underserved communities,” said Aurelia Jones-Taylor, Chief Executive Officer, Aaron E. Henry Community Health Center. “The Aaron E. Henry Community Health Center team is pleased to have aligned with Delta Health System as we all work together to break-down healthcare barriers concerning COVID-19 education in the minority population,”

Again the goal is helping people understand why they need immunization and how to access that help.

“COVID-19 highlights the importance of health literacy, of understanding public health measures and taking steps to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health, RADM Felicia Collins, M.D. “Our new health literacy initiative will help local governments enhance their health literacy efforts to reduce COVID-related disparities within racial and ethnic minority populations and other vulnerable communities.”

Mississippi Valley State University will play a key role in the education component.

“The Mississippi Valley State University staff is encouraged and determined to provide the highest level of data reporting to ensure proficient project evaluations are performed,” said Dr. Jerryl Briggs, President, Mississippi Valley State University. “I feel sure that working with Delta Health System and the other collaborative partners will be a positive experience for our team as we all strive to provide a healthier Delta region.”

Over the next two years, Delta Health-The Medical Center will work with local community-based organizations to develop a health literacy plan to increase the availability, acceptability, and use of COVID-19 public health information and services by racial and ethnic minority populations. The projects will also focus on other populations considered vulnerable for not receiving and using COVID-19 public health information. Recipients are also expected to leverage local data to identify racial and ethnic minority populations at the highest risk for health disparities and low health literacy, as well as populations not currently reached through existing public health campaigns. 

The Office of Minority Health (OMH) is dedicated to improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help eliminate health disparities.

(Source: Clarksdale Press Register)