Decreasing health disparities through collaboration

As primary care providers in underserved communities, health centers play a vital role in the detection and prevention of disease. With linguistic and cultural barriers, immigrant and limited English-speaking communities are more likely to forgo life-saving screenings and immunizations that prevent diseases such as cervical cancer.

To combat this issue, the Health and Life Organization (HALO) and the UC Davis Division of Hematology and Oncology and Comprehensive Cancer Center have formed a collaborative with a grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation to improve screening rates of Asian American and Pacific Islander patients at risk for cancer, and to ensure patients at risk for cancer access oncology services. Launched on June 1st, the collaborative will focus on the following screenings and prevention services:

  • Tobacco screening and cessation programs;
  • HPV vaccinations;
  • Pap testing;
  • Testing for liver cancer;
  • Breast cancer screening; and
  • Colorectal screenings

The collaborative emphasizes several key areas, including sharing patient information across health systems via electronic medical records; educating providers; and training culturally competent and linguistically appropriate front line staff to engage patients. HALO was an ideal community partner due to its diverse staff reflecting underserved immigrant patients in Sacramento. To maximize the sustainability and value of the project, the grant will be used to train existing staff and providers.

In order to mitigate access issues outside of primary care and oncology services, the collaborative has actively engaged health plans and independent physician organizations in the Sacramento region to ensure that all patients that are positively screened for cancer are able to access specialty care services, particularly those at the UC Davis Cancer Center. The collaborative is projected to impact approximately 10,000 Asian American and Pacific Islander patients in the Sacramento area. Other groups participating in the collaborative include the Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training (AANCART), an initiative that trains lay health workers in culturally competent and linguistically appropriate health education, and the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center. 

Check back for updates on how the collaboration is making an impact on the health of their community.