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AARP Connecticut Working to Address Health Disparities

AARP Connecticut is a member of the growing Connecticut Multicultural Health Partnership, a statewide coalition that is working to develop and implement a state plan to identify and address health disparities and multicultural health issues. There are currently over 200 individual members of the Partnership, representing health and social service organizations, public health entities, advocacy and coalition groups, colleges and universities, small businesses and community members.

A major focus of the Partnership is the implementation of the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care (CLAS Standards) in Connecticut. The Office of Minority Health, a division of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, formally adopted the CLAS standards in March 2001. The standards fall under three main themes:

  • Culturally Competent Care (Standards 1-3)
  • Language Access Services (Standards 4-7)
  • Organizational Supports for Cultural Competence (Standards 8-14).

These standards are primarily directed at health care organizations; however, individual providers are also encouraged to use the standards to make their practices more culturally and linguistically accessible.

AARP Connecticut Director of Community Outreach, Erica Michalowski, attended the Partnership’s 3rd Annual Meeting June 30, where members shared information, research and progress to date. The Partnership debuted its Faces of Disparity Awareness Campaign, consisting of a video and exhibit designed to educate the public, policy makers, professionals, educators and students about health disparities in Connecticut, identify contributing factors and present the CLAS Standards as resources for change.

Several committees presented the results of their recent work including, focus groups held in Connecticut that were designed to secure input from customers and service recipients regarding cultural competence and the relevance of race (Consumer Initiatives Committee); surveys of local health departments and community health centers regarding access to language services and the types of language services offered in Connecticut (Language Services Committee); and a series of training recommendations for public health and health care professionals developed by the Professional Development Committee.

AARP will continue to work as part of the coalition to address health disparities and multicultural health issues in Connecticut and to educate and inform the 50+ community in Connecticut about the importance of these issues.

Learn more about the work of the Connecticut Multicultural Health Partnership or become a member.

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