On Tuesday, October 4, 2022, the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners accepted the final report from the joint study of race and racism as a public health issue. Work will begin this fall to develop an implementation plan based on the recommendations.
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 with special emphasis on the services the county provides. A volunteer subgroup of the PHSAB and HRC worked on the study since early 2021. Preliminary recommendations were shared with Olmsted County employees and community groups for input in March through mid-June 2022. The subgroup met in July and August 2022 to make revisions and finalize the recommendations.
"I am impressed by Olmsted County's intentional efforts to correct historic injustices and lead the way in building a more inclusive and welcoming community for all. This joint study is an important part in that ongoing work,” said subgroup volunteer Paula Skedsvold.
"The Olmsted County Board of Commissioners recognize that societal and social determinants play a large role in the health of many of our residents. Wanting to be forward-thinking in doing what is best for all our residents, we asked members of our Public Health Services Advisory Board and the Human Rights Commission to study the issue. In doing so, we had no idea the extent of work that we were asking of these community-minded volunteers,” said Olmsted County Board of Commissioners Chair Mark Thein.
“After dozens of meetings, they have provided us with a guideline that we can use to address racism as a public health concern. The depth of their work is apparent and we, as commissioners and Olmsted County residents, owe those involved in this study our sincere gratitude. We are not going to solve this issue quickly, even locally, and may never solve it completely. However, it is our duty to ensure all Olmsted County residents have a path that will allow them to reach their full potential and addressing how racism affects public health in our community is a major step in achieving this goal," Commissioner Thein continued.
To view the final recommendations and learn more about the joint study of race and racism as a public health issue, please visit the Olmsted County website.