In the most diverse communities, local health departments screen for communicable diseases and chronic conditions.
The expansion of minority populations is changing the public health landscape in America. Local health departments (LHDs) are the best places for poor minorities and immigrants to obtain essential health services. This study gives policy-makers and program managers a better idea of how LHDs are serving culturally diverse populations.
This study created demographic profiles for over 2,000 LHDs. The authors assigned a diversity “score” to each LHD jurisdiction. Four hundred LHDs serving the most diverse areas received survey questionnaires asking about their respective approaches to caring for minority populations. The questions addressed administrative systems, use of foreign language interpreters, and workforce training.
LHDs increasingly serve communities like Palisades Park, New Jersey, where 19 languages are spoken. Despite financial constraints, LHDs have developed a number of approaches to caring for diverse populations; grants targeting prevention activities and health disparities will aid their efforts.