The Center for Health Equity, Inc. received it’s 501(c)3 status in 2000. Since that time, the Center has been awarded a number of grants and contracts totaling more than $10 million dollars in its efforts to eliminate disparities in health outcomes. Most of the organization’s programs have focused on maternal and child health. The Center’s largest grant, the Gadsden Federal Healthy Start Project, has served thousands of women and children with case management services provided by professional social workers and a nurse, education about risk factors associated with poor health and poor birth outcomes, nutrition education, mental health counseling, as well as financial and health literacy. The project also assists program participants with furthering their education and preparing them for employment. As a result, Gadsden County’s Black Infant Mortality rates have dropped from a high of 26 per 1,000 live births to as low as 12.7 over the course of the grant.
Center for Health Equity Directors have over 30 years experience in state and local maternal and child health services: program development and evaluation in Florida’s Title V Office and the state’s own Healthy Start Program; directing the Gadsden CDC REACH project and holding key committee memberships in statewide initiatives to improve maternal and child health (MCH) data and data presentation through the state’s Community Health Resource Data Tool kit (CHARTS); and leadership positions with statewide nonprofit organizations such as the Florida Ounce of Prevention and Healthy Families. Community-based experience includes working with communities of color in program design, implementation and evaluation throughout the state of Florida. Staff at the Center has expertise in public health, program evaluation, health systems analysis, social work, social marketing, business administration, data systems and analysis, and community development.
The Center for Health Equity, Inc. is staffed by a talented multidisciplinary team with expertise in social work, behavioral health, nursing, nutritional health and wellness, research, evaluation, community development and public health. These individuals have a long history of working with minority groups and a proven track record of successfully reshaping systems of care in rural counties to maximize limited resources. Center partners have an extensive network of contacts with rural and minority health agencies, including health departments, Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), rural hospitals, schools, maternal and child health agencies, child welfare agencies, faith-based organizations, grassroots and other community-based nonprofit organizations, and physicians/physician partner organizations. This unique combination of education, skills, experience and considerable public service involvement foster the ability of the Center to focus on specific activities to address programs in public health and community preventive health services for the benefit of communities across Florida.
The Project Director and administrative staff have focused a great deal of emphasis on improving the MCH system of care in Gadsden, working closely with the local health department, FQHC, and other maternal and child health partners to improve the quality of services and service delivery. Satisfaction surveys of Center program participants have remained consistently high with more than 90% expressing very high satisfaction with services.
The Center is well versed in management and oversight of grants and contract funds. The project Executive Director and the Director of Operations were awarded funding in 2008 through the federal Health Resources and Services Administration and the Johnson and Johnson Foundation to attend the J&J/UCLA Executive Health Management program, graduating with official certificates from the John D. Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA. For the 19 plus years of operation, projects have been funded by HRSA (MCH Bureau and the Office of Rural Health), the Office of Minority Health, The National Institutes of Health (through a contract with the Florida A&M University), The Florida Department of Health (through the Office of Equal Opportunity and Minority Health and the Office of Chronic Disease), and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), Florida Blue Foundation, Florida Covering Kids and Families Navigator Program (through a contract with the University of South Florida), and other funding partners.
At a time when old ways of approaching community health must be revamped with a focus on harnessing grassroots community knowledge and energy, the Center for Health Equity is poised to take a leading role. The challenge is enormous—finding new ways of working within local communities to decrease the dramatic health disparities is challenging but with perseverance and determination it can work successfully. The opportunities are enormous—now is the time for a public/private partnership that will facilitate the successful achievement of the Center’s Vision and Mission.