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September 22, 2021

Salt Lake County Health Department Awarded $3.8 Million Grant to Improve Minority Health

Gabe Moreno - Email

(SALT LAKE COUNTY)—The Salt Lake County Health Department (SLCoHD) announced today that it has been awarded a two-year, $3,844,568 grant from the Office of Minority Health (OMH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support projects that improve health and reduce health disparities among minorities in Salt Lake County.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), health disparities are defined as “preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations.”

SLCoHD will use this grant to improve health literacy—a health disparity largely associated with low health outcomes such as more hospitalizations, greater use of emergency care, lower receipt of health screenings and vaccinations, poorer overall health status, and higher mortality rates.

According to the American Public Health Association (APHA), health literacy is defined as the ability to “obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.” Unfortunately, nearly 9 of 10 adults have difficulty using the everyday health information routinely available in health care facilities, media, and communities.

“Health literacy is critical because, at some point in our lives, we all need to be able to find, understand and use health information and services in order to make the best choice for our well-being,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, SLCoHD executive director. “When people don’t receive clear communication regarding health information, it can be detrimental to their health and the health of those around them. We have become acutely aware of how important this is during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for diverse and multicultural communities that have carried the heaviest burdens of infection, hospitalization, and death.”

SLCoHD plans to strengthen partnerships with trusted and diverse community-based organizations to develop and implement a sustainable health literacy plan, culturally sensitive health messaging and trusted health information sources that will guide all strategies and actions to advance health literacy in Salt Lake County.

“It became abundantly clear during COVID that there were gaps in serving the needs of populations experiencing inequities which also causes disparities,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. It has been one of my top priorities throughout this pandemic to ensure we close those gaps.”

Shortly after COVID hit our community, in April 2020 Mayor Wilson formed an Equity for Diverse and Underserved Communities team as part of the county’s COVID response. The team, which remains an integral part of the SLCoHD pandemic response, focuses on addressing language barriers and providing equitable access to health and economic information, testing and vaccination.

Last week, the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative at the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business and the Community Foundation of Utah presented the Equity for Diverse and Underserved Communities team with its Utah Ethical Leadership Award. The award recognizes organizations that show exceptional dedication to conducting themselves ethically.

Mayor Wilson said, “I am so proud of our Equity for Diverse and Underserved Communities team for working tirelessly throughout COVID to lift historically under-resourced populations in unique ways. And now, with the Salt Lake County Health Department receiving the Advancing Health Literacy Grant, we will be able to further our work in making sure health information is available, clear, and equitable.”