Thursday, May 03, 2007


DAN Legislation Hearing

Please join us for a health disparities hearing:

Wednesday, May 16th, 10:00 am
Room A-1, State House, Boston
The Joint Committee on Public Health will hear HB 2234, An Act to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Commonwealth, sponsored by Rep. Byron Rushing.
  • Create a New Office of Health Equity to coordinate public agency efforts to reduce disparities.
  • Support community health workers, community health centers, and community behavioral health providers through competitive grant programs
  • Provide reimbursement for language interpreter services
  • Develop a community health index for commmunities with high levels of morbidity and mortality
Please join us for this important event!
For more information or to RSVP, please contact Camille Watson at:

We hope to see you there!

Monday, April 09, 2007


The Disparities Action Network

On Friday, April 6, LHI hosted the meeting of the Massachusetts Disparities Action Network. This is a group convened by Critical MASS -- a statewide coalition of people and organizations committed to eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities -- and Health Care for All. Information about the DAN can be found on the HCFA web site, right here.

The most important DAN activity right now is following the progress of legislation that we developed to create a new statewide Office of Health Equity, with a mandate to "coordinate all activities of the Commonwealth to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities." The office will have various resources and powers, which are described in the legislation, which has now been introduced by Rep. Byron Rushing and numerous co-sponsors in both houses. You can read the current version of the bill here. This legislation will create a new philosophy of state governance, in which all policies have to be considered in light of their impact on health equity, which is a fundamental element of social justice.

There will be a hearing on this, and related legislation, before the joint Public Health Committee, at some time in the coming weeks. We'll let you know when it is scheduled, and I hope we'll pack Gardner Auditorium and prove to the legislators that the people of Massachusetts really care about this breakthrough act -- which will establish Massachusetts as a national leader.

And, of course, LHI is proud to be a part of it.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


LHI at the New England Regional Minority Health Conference

LHI had a strong presence at this year's New England Regional Minority Health Conference, held this year at the Foxwoods resort in Ledyard, Connecticut. Yes, we did serious business among las tragamonedas and the poker tournament, but the Grand Pequot Hotel is not a bad place for a conference.

On Tuesday morning, I took part in a panel presentation on behalf of the New England Coalition for Health Equity (NECHE), for which LHI is the research and policy institute. On behalf of NECHE, we are currently updating a survey of racial and ethnic identification in public health data systems, which we first did in 2001,* and a review of state policy to address health disparities in the New England states, based on a framework laid out in the Commonwealth Fund Report "A State Policy Agenda to Eliminate Health Disparities".** Bruce Cohen, who is head data guru for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, then discussed the new Massachusetts state data standard, which we very much support in principal because it allow people to identify themselves by specific ethnicity, including by specific Latin American national origin. Bill Walker, Director of the Office of Minority Health for New Hampshire, Carrie Bridges, his counterpart from Rhode Island, and Brian Kevin Gibbs of the Harvard School of Public Health also participated on the panel, which was moderated by Janet L. Scott-Harris, Regional Program Consultant for the U.S. Office of Minority Health.

That afternoon, Alfredo Hernandez, LHI's Program Coordinator for Men's Health, participated with representatives of the Multicultural AIDS Coalition on a panel describing the development of a multi-ethnic conference on HIV care, called Bringing it Home. It was an excellent discussion of the challenges, and benefits, of building a coalition among people from various immigrant groups. (I hope Alfredo will have a chance to write about it here. I plan to invite him.)

That evening, I co-facilitated a NECHE meeting with NECHE Chair Curtiss Reed from ALANA community organization in Brattleboro, Vermont. Bill, Carrie, Brian and Janet also participated in that meeting, along with more than 20 other people from around New England. We're planning to develop a major proposal on behalf of NECHE, about which more later.

On Wednesday, several of us presented a workshop entitled "Developing a comprehensive culturall competent behavioral health clinic behavioral health clinic for a linguistic and cultural minority group." I presented a brief history of LHI, but the heart of the workshop consisted of presentations by Ruben Montano-Lopez, Director of Clinical Services in our Boston office; Jorge Soler, Evaluation Associate; Fannie Figueroa, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Director of the Community Health Initiative; and Victor Griffiths, Clinical Director. My colleagues described our clinical services, including the Comadres program, which is actually located within the Community Health Initiative, and the challenges and opportunities we face as we make the transition from contract-funded services to third-party reimbursement. Our PowerPoint presentations are available to anyone who is interested; just send me an e-mail.

The presentation was very well received. Most of the audience are engaged in providing similar services, and they felt they had a lot to learn from our experiences and expertise. Once again, I hope some of my colleagues will be interested in posting here about the material they presented. As an additional benefit, we now have a well-structured presentation about some of the important programs of our agency, we will be able to use in the future.

I apologize that it's taken a while for us to begin posting here regularly, but Rob Pomales and I intend to update this site frequently from now on. We hope you will continue to visit, and leave comments. Thanks for reading.

*Laws MB, Heckscher R. Racial and ethnic identification practices in public health data systems in New England. Public Health Reports. 2002; 117(1):5-61.

**McDonough, JE, Gibbs, BK, Scott-Harris JL, Kronebusch K, Navarro AM, Taylor K. A State Policy Agenda to Eliminate Health Disparities. The Commonwealth Fund. New York. June 2004.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


The New England Coalition for Health Equity

Since 1998, LHI has been the research arm of the New England Coalition for Health Equity. NECHE brings together community activists, public officials and academic public health researchers and practitioners throughout the region to develop and encourage state policy to eliminate health disparities.

On behalf of NECHE, we conducted an assessment of racial and ethnic identification practices in public health data systems throughout New England, which was published in Public Health Reports. We also organized two regional symposia on state policy. The first, on data issues, was held at Northeastern University in 2002. The second, at Tufts University School of Medicine in 2004, focused on a range of policy issues as discussed in the Commonwealth Fund report, A State Policy Agenda to Eliminate Health Disparities.

The Commonwealth Fund, and the U.S. Office of Minority Health, through OMH regional program consultant Janet Scott-Harris, have given us a small amount of funding to follow up on these projects. Right now, our Evaluation Associate Nina Joyce and I are updating the inventory of public health data systems, and conducting an up-to-date review of state policy in the six New England states as compared to recommendations in the Commonwealth Fund report.

NECHE will be presenting our findings at a panel at the New England Regional Minority Health Conference at the Foxwoods resort in Connecticut in April. Joining me on the panel will be one of the Commonwealth Fund report authors, Brian Kevin Gibbs of Harvard School of Public Health; Bill Walker, Director of the New Hampshire Office of Minority Health; Carrie Bridges, Coordinator of disparities initiatives for the Rhode Island Department of Public Health; Bruce Cohen, Director of Health Statistics and Research for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health; and Janet Scott-Harris, who will moderate.

We will also prepare written reports of our findings for publication, and the results will be available from me, on request. Please feel free to contact me if you would like more information on these projects.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006



The Latin American Health Institute is pleased to introduce this new resource for our staff, friends, and everyone who is interested in the health of Latinos in the United States, the health of all ethnic and linguistic minorities in, health equity, and public health in general.

LHI is a Latino community based organization with offices in Boston, Brockton and Lowell, Massachusetts. We offer a range of health promotion and disease prevention programs, social services, and behavioral health services. LHI is a licensed mental health and substance abuse treatment provider.

This blog is about our work in research, including medical and public health sociology, and policy-related research in disparities in health and health care; and public policy, including our participation in the New England Coalition for Health Equity, and the Massachusetts Disparities Action Network, as well as our own efforts on behalf of the Latino community. We will also discuss other research findings and public policy developments of relevance to our readers.

We won't necessarily be posting on a regular schedule, but we will bring you updates whenever events warrant, and you can count on finding new material here at least a few times a week. Your comments are encouraged, and we will do our best to answer questions or respond to suggestions. The top level posts will normally be in English, but comments are welcome in English or Spanish. Acogimos comentarios en español tanto como inglés.

Right now, the contributors to this blog are Bart Laws, who is Senior Investigator in Social Science and Policy at LHI; and Robert Pomales, Executive Director of Policy and Strategic Relations. "Cervantes," who you also see on the contributor list, is our site administrator. Other LHI staff, collaborators, clients or friends who would like to make a post on this blog should contact Bart or Rob and we'll see if it's appropriate. Or, you can always put your contribution in the comments.

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