In August 2020, the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution directing two of its volunteer advisory groups-the Olmsted County Public Health Services Advisory Board (PHSAB) and the Olmsted County Human Rights Commission (HRC) to jointly study and investigate racial disparities that result from systemic racism as a public health issue. The focus of this work is on the services Olmsted County provides.
Since the beginning of 2021, a volunteer sub-group of the PHSAB and HRC has been learning and working diligently. They have created preliminary recommendations that span 10 focus areas:
- Advisory boards
- Criminal justice
- Customer service
- Data collection and use
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Financial stress
- Mental health
- Substance use
The preliminary recommendations will be shared with community groups for input beginning in February 2022 and then refined over the next several months before final recommendations are presented to the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners later in 2022.
“The continued work on this study could not be possible without the time and energy devoted by the volunteer sub-group from the Public Health Services Advisory Board and the Human Rights Commission,” said Olmsted County Deputy County Administrator Travis Gransee. “A tremendous amount of work has gone into this study, and we appreciate their dedication to addressing this important issue in our community.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and data collected through Olmsted County’s Community Health Assessment and Planning (CHAP) process, racial and ethnic minority groups throughout the United States experience higher rates of illness and death across a wide range of health conditions when compared to their white counterparts.
“Olmsted County is a community that values and prioritizes health. The health of the county isn’t just about the exercise we get or the food we eat, it’s also about the opportunities we make available through education, employment, housing, and other avenues for success,” said Olmsted County Commissioner Sheila Kiscaden. “As a governing body, Olmsted County takes responsibility for raising this issue in an official manner and taking steps to address it. However, the community needs to collectively hold responsibility for community health and for taking action to ensure everyone can thrive.”
The work on this study aligns with Olmsted County’s One Olmsted initiative, which seeks to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion among county employees and the residents they serve. More information about how changes will be implemented through county departments and One Olmsted will be shared once recommendations are final.
For additional information on the joint study, please email Olmsted County Management Analyst Amy Liebl or Olmsted County Community Health Specialist Abby Tricker.