Transforming Local Public Health Practice to Advance Health Equity
Minnesota’s state and local health departments recognize that in order to achieve a state where everyone in Minnesota has the opportunity to be healthy, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, social class, or geography, they must become better equipped to advance health equity. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and local public health leaders have collaborated to identify key practices for advancing health equity, and to develop an online resources library to support these practices. After taking these steps, many health departments are still asking: where do we start?
With funding from PHNCI, MDH is facilitating a learning community of six local health jurisdictions to help answer that question. Participating teams are developing skills to apply a health equity lens and identify opportunities to start working differently. They are taking action to align organizational policies and practices with a commitment to health equity, to engage differently with communities in their jurisdiction, and to work across sectors to incorporate health in all policies.
Learning community meetings have included:
- Using a health equity lens to recognize who benefits (or doesn’t) and who is included (or is left out) from a process, protocol, program, policy, or decision;
- Recognizing and building responsibility for implicit bias;
- Facilitated reflection on Camara Jones’ allegories on race and racism;
- Principles of authentic community engagement; and
- The use of scenarios to illuminate opportunities to work differently.
To assure that local teams have support in moving their work forward, MDH staff provide individual coaching to check in on progress, help teams reflect on the work, connect teams to helpful tools and resources, and identify next steps.
It really helps me to be on the [coaching] calls. You help me to be thinking differently… When I start going down a path, where my comfort level and knowledge base is, and I feel like it’s a good path because I have good intentions, you challenge that in a good way, and it helps me to grow and think differently. , Local Health Jurisdiction
This is also an exceptional learning opportunity for MDH. Our in-depth work with local health jurisdictions is helping us uncover the key ingredients for success and identify barriers to change, which will guide our efforts to support statewide transformation.
Visit the MDH website to learn more about the resources they have available to build your public health department's health equity capacity.