Unite Oregon is a coalition member of Health Care for All Oregon, a state-wide coalition formed to create a comprehensive, equitable, publically funded, high quality, universal healthcare system serving everyone in Oregon.
1. Ensure comprehensive, high quality healthcare for all;
2. Provide care based on patient needs rather than profits, focusing on prevention, effective treatment, and improved medical outcomes; and
3. Publically financed, directing resources to medical care and minimizing administrative expenses and waste in the healthcare system.
Unite Oregon is a founding member, and serves on the steering committee, for the Oregon Health Equity Alliance (OHEA), a collective effort of regional and state partners who seek to make Oregon a more equitable place for all. OHEA is open to organizations who serve constituents facing health inequities in the Tri-County region of Clackamas, Washington and Multnomah counties. We have established a diverse, dynamic and effective coalition of 41 member organizations, and adopted a 5 year Regional Health Equity Plan.
Together we educate, organize and advocate for community-driven solutions to improve our health and wellbeing. We believe every Oregonian should have an equal chance to achieve their full health potential.
OHEA seeks to enact smart policies to improve our regional and statewide health and wellbeing through public policy, legislation, and policies that govern our workplaces, schools and communities. We build from an accomplished record of statewide policy wins in areas including cultural competency for health professionals, prenatal care for all women, data equity standards, and supporting a growing traditional health workforce.
Unite Oregon working with other community-based organizations to assist Multnomah County in creating a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). We aim to improve population health by developing an achievable plan of action (e.g. a work plan) to address priority needs identified in the Community Health Assessment (CHA).
Principles of the CHIP Process:
1 .The process is community- owned and transparent;
2. The process is grounded in the best available research and analysis; and
3. The recommendations and implementation plan should be achievable and should engage the key stakeholders critical to implementation.
Tobacco Use Prevention
All Multnomah County residents deserve to live in neighborhoods that promote health. Unfortunately, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in Oregon and the county. In Multnomah County, one in five (21%) deaths are tobacco-related, and the medical care from tobacco use costs more than $200 million annually. Environments that have fewer outlets that sell tobacco, are free of tobacco advertising, and are smoke-free can improve health by discouraging tobacco use.
Tobacco use is also a barrier to achieving health equity in the county. For example, the adult cigarette smoking prevalence is higher among American Indians/Alaska Natives (42%) and African Americans (30%) compared to non-Hispanic Whites (20%). The Surgeon General’s Report on Tobacco Use Among U.S. Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups highlighted many instances where the tobacco industry targeted specific racial/ethnic populations to increase tobacco sales.
In Multnomah County neighborhoods, there are more tobacco retailers per capita in areas with a higher percentage of populations of color. Unite Oregon is working to help change that.
Read The Selling of Tobacco in Multnomah County, a report highlighting our work in this area.
Unite Oregon, Rogue Valley is a founding steering committee member of Southern Oregon Regional Health Equity Coalition. Together, this regional coalition works to advance policy, systems, and environmental changes that promote equity and address the social determinants of health. We prioritize health disparities for underrepresented populations, including racially and ethnically diverse communities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ communities and low-income individuals.
Margins to Mainstream: Wellness for Newcomers
A large proportion of immigrants and refugees suffer from triple factors of trauma: the trauma of the violence, poverty, or oppression that they experienced in their home country, the cultural shock confronting them upon arrival, and economic difficulties and social isolation they face in their new communities. Some studies report Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in refugee populations ten times the general population. We believe this number is actually much higher as many newcomers do not seek help, and their cases go unreported. Current social services and behavioral health programs for newcomers largely focus on individualized assistance and mental health counseling. While important, this approach alone misses the larger picture. A methodology that more fully addresses the root causes of behavioral health issues within newcomer communities should consider addressing acculturation in a group context, directly provide opportunities for cross-cultural learning, promote civic engagement and social cohesion, and advocate systems change. The Margins to Mainstream project represents a proactive and upstream response, aimed at reducing health disparities experienced by immigrant and refugee demographic groups most in need.
Margins to Mainstream: Wellness for Newcomers is a collaboration that centers around developing and employing a trained base of immigrant and refugee “wellness life guides,” or traditional health workers/organizers—assisted and supported by a team of social service agencies, community based organizations, and health care providers—that aid newcomers in acquiring the facilitative and communicative skills necessary to interact, understand, and cope with their needs in relation to their adopted environment, and work collaboratively toward institutional change. The project integrates individual behavioral health services, culturally-specific group process work, cross-cultural community organizing training, and collective action to realize positive outcomes on the personal, family, and community levels.