The City of Santa Ana has been awarded a $4 million federal health equity and literacy grant to help underserved populations get better access to health services and information in response to COVID-19.
The two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) will allow for the rapid expansion of current and planned services to increase COVID-19 testing and vaccination, reduce gaps in vaccination and other health disparities, and improve health literacy-related outcomes for low-income, medically underserved patients in and around Santa Ana. Health literacy is a person’s ability to find, understand and use information and services to help them make health-related decisions for themselves and others.
“This grant will be an essential tool to bridge the health equity gap that affects much of our community,” Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento said. “Our residents live in some of the most densely populated neighborhoods in California, and many are frontline workers and immigrants, all of which has contributed to higher COVID-19 case and death rates. The pandemic isn’t over yet, so we can’t let up in our efforts to protect the people of Santa Ana.”
The City’s $4 million grant is part of a $250 million, two-year federal initiative to identify and implement best practices for improving health literacy to enhance COVID-19 vaccination and other mitigation practices among underserved populations. The Advancing Health Literacy (AHL) to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19 initiative is part of President Biden’s National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.
Over the next two years, the City of Santa Ana will work with local community-based organizations to develop a health literacy plan to increase the availability, acceptability, and use of COVID-19 public health information and services by racial and ethnic minority populations. The initiative is called Health Equity and Literacy in OC (HEAL-OC). The projects will focus on populations considered vulnerable for not receiving and using COVID-19 public health information.
Grant recipients are also expected to leverage local data to identify racial and ethnic minority populations at the highest risk for health disparities and low health literacy, as well as populations not currently reached through existing public health campaigns.
Over the two-year term of the grant, the City is awarding funding to the following local community organizations, as approved by the City Council, that will help in providing health services and education:
- Coalition of OC Community Health Centers: $1.2 million
- Latino Health Access: $910,000
- Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance, Inc. (working with several other Asian outreach organizations): $800,000
- University of California, Irvine (UCI): $689,804
“The Advancing Health Literacy initiative is a vital part of the HHS efforts to help communities hardest hit by the pandemic access and understand COVID-related information,” said Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Rachel L. Levine, M.D. “This funding, and the partnerships with local and community entities across the country, will help our national efforts to continue to tackle health disparities surrounding COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and treatment.”
Health literacy is a central focus of the Healthy People 2030 blueprint for improving the health of the nation, which is sponsored by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health. Healthy People 2030 has elevated health literacy within one of its overarching goals: Eliminate health disparities, achieve health equity, and attain health literacy to improve the health and well-being of all.
For more information about OMH, visit minorityhealth.hhs.gov.