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Topics > Reducing Health Disparities Initiative > What We Are Doing > Public Health Works on Linguistic Access

Public Health Works on Linguistic Access

Left to right; Joanne Genêt, Dr. Wendel Brunner and Deborah Card.

Our Public Health Division (PH) has focused on linguistic access as part of the Reducing Health Disparities Initiative (RHDI).

PH staff learned how to access our translation and interpretation services and are using them to improve access to care, said Joanne Genêt, who is the manager of the Lead Poisoning Prevention Project and co-chairs the Division's RHDI work group with Deborah Card.

One example is the Homeless Program, which recently participated in an training on how to a use the service that provides CCHS with language interpretation services via telephone.

Homeless Program Outreach Team brings cell phones or uses pay phones to access the service in the fi eld to communicate with non-English speaking people who are homeless and living in encampments.

PH also is working to develop an incident form to report when a client has diffi culty accessing care because of language issues.

This will help the Division improve care, Joanne said.

Most of PH's programs - which also include the Community Wellness and Prevention Program, Communicable Diseases, HIV/AIDS, and Family, Maternal and Child Health and more - are actively engaged in RHDI and all have implemented the linguistic access tools.

"We have never gotten so many people at the table," Joanne said. "I am really proud."

She said the work group will decide its next steps based on a needs assessment that is done with program managers.

PH Director Wendel Brunner, MD said reducing health disparities is a top priority for Public Health.

"Our staff is committed to reducing health disparities and is working very hard to tear down the walls that impede access to health care," he said.

For more information about Public Health's RHDI efforts, call Joanne Genêt at 925-313-6763 or email her at

Sharing Best Practices

Left to right; Dawna Vann, Charlie Fernandez, and Charlotte Dickson are members of the Inclusion Work Group.

As part of the RHDI, our Community Wellness & Prevention Program's Inclusion Work Group is using its monthly professional development workshops to address such topics as race, class, sexual orientation and health disparities. The workshops provide a venue for staff of different backgrounds and ethnicities to share and learn from each other, said Dawna Vann, Senior Clerk, who co-chairs the Inclusion committee.

"We come together from different backgrounds and ethnicities to share best practices to help us overcome the divide and move beyond our own fi lters," Dawna said.

Feedback about the workshops has been really positive, said Joanne Genêt, manager of the Lead Poisoning Prevention Project.

"People really want to talk about these issues," Joanne said.

Inclusion Work Group members include Dawna Vann, Joanne Genêt, Tracey Rattray, Charlie Fernandez, Roxanne Carrillo, Gwenn White, Charlotte Dickson and Kitty Lenhart.

For more information call Dawna Vann at 925-313-6764 or email her at

Content provided by the Reducing Health Disparities Initiative.

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