Health Disparities

Late in 2009, a partnership group led by Washtenaw County Public Health (WCPH) received funding to address health disparities in Washtenaw County. The grant is a three-year project in which WCPH and its partners will work to address the social determinants or social factors that impact health. The multidisciplinary partnership for this grant consist of WCPH as the lead agency, St. Joseph Mercy Health System - Neighborhood Health Clinic, Packard Health, Spanish Healthcare Outreach Collaborative (SHOC), University of Michigan Health System's Program for Multicultural Health, Washtenaw Community College's Harriet Street Center, The Corner Health Center, and the Ypsilanti Health Coalition. These organizations were selected for membership because of their long history of successfully partnering to improve the health status of the African American and Latino communities of Washtenaw County. In addition to these partners, WCPH's internal Health Equity and Social Justice Committee serve as an advisory capacity to the project.

Listed below are four strategies that this grant will address to decrease health disparities in our county:

Casa Latina

Latinos in Washtenaw County reflect a diversity of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.  A subgroup of grant partners engaged the Latino community to dtermine what services exist for Latinos in need; they found disparate services and many gaps.  The group established Casa Latina as a home for information and resources for the Latino community.  For more information, please visit the Casa Latina web site.

Community Health Advocate Program

The grant also funded the development and implementation of a best-practice intervention called Community Health Advocacy (CHA) in the Gateway Community of Ypsilanti.  Community Health Advocates are trained lay persons who assist members of the community with the social factors (e.g. transportation, education, safe neighborhoods) that infuence their health.  Progress thus far includes:

    • 15 trained Community Health Advocates
    • Created a  manual for CHA trainings
    • Established  schedule (days/Hours) for CHAs
    • Established a CHA sub group (which includes 4 of trained CHAs) that guides the functions and roles of CHAP

Community Based Initiative

Parkridge Community Center serves as the main hub for the program (and the CHAs will  be present at GC events such as health fairs, Farmers Markets etc). Regular hours began in February 2011. Community Health Advocates are available on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday  from 12:00pm to 4:00pm.  

Health Center Initiative

A partnership between the Washtenaw Health Initiative and the Washtenaw County Public Health Department created a pilot program that utiizes the Community Health Advocates (CHA'S) at Packard Health.    The CHA's provide support for patients who are enrolled in the Blue Cross Complete Program. The CHA'S are available on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 1:00pm - 5:00pm.  The program is funded by a grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation.

Disparities Index

WCPH Health Opportunities Workgroup examined models and indicators for potential use for measuring progress on health equity.  We have selected a set of indicators that is small in number, meaningful, easy to understand by many community sectors, and has routine data sources and availability.

Click here to view Indicators  

For more information, contact Adreanne Waller at or (734) 544-3057.

Health Equity Workshops

The workshops are designed to enhance common understanding of health disparities in the following ways: how to begin/continue dialogue on topics of racism, oppression and health equity and social justice and why it’s important to address these root causes explicitly. To date there have been two workshop sessions held. One session took place during March of 2011 and the other session was held in late October/early November of 2011. A total of 45 people, including members from partner agencies, concerned citizens as well as representatives from both the Ann Arbor Transit Authority and the Spanish Healthcare Collaborative. The workshops have built capacity for those implementing the grant as well as those systems, agencies and whose lives are touched by the projects. For more information, please contact Sharon Sheldon at or (734) 544-6781.

Grant Partners

The Corner Health Center

Michigan Institute for Clinical Health Research

Packard Health

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Neighborhood Family Health Center

University of Michigan Program for Multi Cultural Health

Washtenaw Community College Harriet Street Center

Casa Latina

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