Groups awarded $364K for services to minorities

A private trust has awarded $364,000 to Northwest Colorado Coalition for Equality in Health, a group working to improve health care for non-English speaking residents.

The grant, provided by the Colorado Trust, will be dispersed over five years among multiple groups. Grant rec-ipients are: Communidad Integrada, the Visiting Nurse Association, the Colorado State University Extension Offices in Routt and Moffat counties and the Boys & Girls Club of Craig.

The Colorado Trust was established as a grant-making foundation in 1985 with the proceeds from the sale of PSL Healthcare Corp.

"The Northwest Colorado Coalition for Equality in Health Care was formed to address the disparity in health care between ethnic minorities and non-minorities," said Summer Laws, director of Communidad Integrada. "Studies show there are huge gaps."

Hispanics make up 18 percent of the population but have the highest death rate for diabetes, pancreatic cancer and motor vehicle crashes, Laws said.

Language barriers often limit access to health care, Laws said.

The grant will work to alleviate those gaps, she said.

Communidad Integrada will use funds to establish and staff a service where residents can call to request an interpreter or translator.

"We'll focus on training and raising the quality of interpretation and translation service in our area," Laws said.

Starting in December, Com-munidad Integrada should have a separate telephone line for anyone requesting services.

In an effort to sustain the program beyond the grant cycle, there will be a fee for those services. The fee likely would be offset by the grant and other funding sources, she said.

The Visiting Nurse Association will use the funds to establish a prenatal program geared toward Spanish-speaking clients, which will require hiring bilingual nurses.

Extension offices will provide English and conversational Spanish classes, as well as information about health and nutrition in Spanish.

The Boys & Girls Club will consider starting a Spanish club and conversational Spanish and culture classes, said Terry Doherty, Resource Development dir-ector.

But, the primary focus will be on parents.

"Our biggest challenge, and we're trying to address it, is bridging the gap to incorporate the parents," she said. "We envision that, at some point, the Boys & Girls Club will serve as a meeting place for families."

The grant also will cover cultural competency training that will be offered once or twice a year to targeted audiences, such as government officials or health care providers.

The coalition competed with nearly 30 projects for funding. Half were awarded money, Doherty said.

"There were no others with four partners," she said. "That was unique, as was our demographics. Partnering with Communidad Integrada was huge, too. They're cutting edge."

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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