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Expanding services in Central Oregon
Marina Rogers
Marina Rogers, AmeriCorps VISTA, Let’s Talk Diversity Coalition
 
As an AmeriCorps VISTA serving with the Let’s Talk Diversity Coalition, one of the Office of Equity and Inclusion’s regional equity coalitions, I have been fortunate to participate in a variety of community projects. From engaging local high school students to partnering with justice system personnel, it has been a privilege to be involved in a community that is striving towards more equitable systems for all residents.
 
In Jefferson County, we recognize that not all community members receive the same treatment or opportunities and this has resulted in health inequities. As a coalition, our goal is to create stronger communities where every person in the county and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs has the ability to achieve the highest level of health possible.
 
One of our current projects involves partnering with the Central Oregon Health Equity Task Force to gain input about local health care systems from community members in Jefferson, Crook and Deschutes counties. We will be hosting a multicultural storytelling project in the form of community forums and focus groups during the month of February. The Health Equity Task Force aims to better understand both the positive and negative experiences that our diverse community members encounter when they access local health care.
 
The Task Force hopes to hear specific community suggestions for improving language access, linguistically appropriate communications, patient engagement, provider and workforce competency, inclusive/welcoming environments and access to preventative care. Community suggestions and stories relating to these areas of health services will then be translated into recommendations for the Central Oregon Health Council and Central Oregon’s CCO, PacificSource to improve health equity in our region. We hope to make a presentation to the council in June with specific recommendations both in writing and through videotaped stories from community members.
 

I am excited to be part of the Central Oregon Health Equity Task Force’s work. I am also grateful to live in an area where health care leaders are working to recognize the community’s knowledge, learn from the community’s suggestions and empower community members who are often underrepresented in the discussion on health care transformation.

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