Structure of the Pacific and Southwest Regional Health Equity Council

A key component of the leadership framework for operationalizing the National Stakeholder Strategy for Achieving Health Equity (National Stakeholder Strategy), the Region IX Health Equity Council (Council) is a voluntary multi-sector group that provides leadership, ensures continued information flow, and galvanizes action.

The Council addresses health disparities improvement actions for Region IX and works to leverage resources, infuses the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities (NPA) goals and strategies into policies, practices, and shares stories and successes with broad constituencies. The Council functions independently to ensure that issues, strategies, and required actions are applicable to the states of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, and Republic of Palau. 

RHEC IX maintains a diverse membership representing several sectors such as state and local government, academic and research, hospital and medical facility, civic and nonprofit and the private sector. The diversity on RHEC IX ensures adequate input from diverse sectors in the council’s efforts to understand and address health disparities in the region. The council has 30 voting seats. 

Pacific and Southwest Regional Health Equity Council Committees

Pacific and Southwest Regional Health Equity Council (RHEC) established six committees to develop objectives, strategies, and/or activities to address the following priority areas: Behavioral Health, Funding and Sustainability, Health and Health Care Disparities Textbook, Influencing Health Policies, Partnerships and Collaborations, and Pathways to Healthcare Careers. The Community Outreach and Education Committee is comprised of the following subcommittees: community health workers; refugee health; access to health care; and engaging youth in health disparities research subcommittees.

Behavioral Health Committee

The Behavioral Health Committee compiles relevant data in Region IX in order to assess the state of behavioral health, including mental health and substance abuse disorders. The Committee's goal is to ensure equity by using data analysis to influence behavioral health services and policies.

Influencing Health Policies Committee

The Influencing Health Policies Committee aim to help RHEC IX become more engaged in the health policy process including education and engagement with policymakers.

Partnerships and Collaborations Committee

The commitment of partnership and collaboration is to foster activities across public and private sectors to the common agenda of health equity to solve social problems and share best practices and solutions for sustainable impact.

Pathway to Healthcare Careers Committee

The goal of the Pathway to Healthcare Careers is to provide broader awareness of innovative healthcare professional training programs and health equity issues in Region 9. 

Funding and Sustainability Committee  

Established in 2015 to create an infrastructure that would enable RHEC IX to receive funding from various sources. In December 2016, RHEC IX entered into an agreement with Heluna Health, formally Public Health Foundation Enterprise (PHFE), to serve as its fiscal sponsor. The Committee will continue to serve as the developmental department for the RHEC, which includes (1) implementing a streamlined method for receiving potential funding opportunities and interest from other committees and/or members; and (2) a process for vetting and capturing relevant information and needs in order to communicate the prospective request to Heluna Health. The goal is to assist the RHEC and Heluna Health in determining if the projects are fundable as well as identifying any prospects for funding opportunities that would assist the committees in meeting the goals, objectives and activities in their existing work plans. For 2018 the goal is to submit two applications for funding; and as a long term goal (2019 or later), the Committee will continue to consider the value of incorporating as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Health Information Technology (HIT) Committee—Co-Chairs: Andrew Makoto, PhD, and Brittnee Gauthier

Building on the work of the 2013-1016 HIT Committee, the 2017 HIT Committee’s purpose is to provide novel insight into innovative methods (e.g., smartphone apps, social media) for delivering culturally appropriate health information to underserved populations. In 2017, the HIT will focus on identifying innovative strategies and effective indicators for success that have been effectively implemented by RHEC IX members and other regional and national stakeholders (e.g., researchers, public health officials) by conducting: (1) systematic reviews of promising and/or best HIT practices in the scientific literature, and (2) online surveys of RHEC IX members. This work will result in an information brief distilling potentially effective HIT strategies for reaching underserved communities in Region IX.

Textbook on Health and Healthcare Care Disparities Ad Hoc Committee – Co-Chairs: Darlene Yee-Melichar, EdD, CHES, Peter Wong, PhD.,, MScEcon, MPP, and Francisco Sy, MD, DrPH

The goal of the Textbook on Health and Health Care Disparities Ad Hoc Committee is to plan and develop a textbook for publication addressing health and healthcare disparities through models and strategies in promoting health equity with attention to the following three objectives and drawing from exemplars at the national, regional, state and local levels:
  1. Identify health and health care disparities that may be addressed by translating scientific research into community practice; 
  2. Identify health and health care disparities that may be reduced though best practices and model programs in the community; and 
  3. Identify collaborative partnerships and joint ventures that may help to close the gap on health and health care disparities in the community. 

Ongoing Activities and Accomplishments: 
  • Conducted a Regional Environmental Scan to collect health disparities data on Region IX to include Hawaii and the Pacific Islands: 
Described gaps, challenges and opportunities. 
  • Assess the state of behavioral health and influence behavioral services and policies to ensure equity
  • Create an infrastructure enabling PSWRHEC to receive funding from various sources, with Heluna Health (formerly Public Health Foundation Enterprise (PHFE)) as its fiscal sponsor (since 2016)
Identified and elevated promising practices in the region. 
  • Plan and develop a textbook on health and healthcare disparities: strategies for achieving health equity for publication and national dissemination
  • Provide broader awareness of innovative healthcare professional training
  • Use Health Information Technology (HIT) and media tools to disseminate information about access to quality health care and support patient education to underserved and vulnerable populations 
Identify information needs and disseminate to populations in the region. 

Materials and media releases: