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DOH-Orange Produces the 2017 Hispanic Health Assessment

By Kent Donahue

February 14, 2018

Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange) has produced the 2017 Hispanic Health Assessment (HHA) for Orange County, Florida.

The HHA is the first population specific assessment developed to address the needs of a targeted population in the county. It is an example of the commitment DOH-Orange has in utilizing best practices to improve the health of community residents. Furthermore, the HHA serves as an avenue by which to better understand the gaps and needs that exist within the community and how it impacts the Hispanic population.    

“This assessment is timely given the rapid growth of our Hispanic community from Venezuela and now from Puerto Rico in recent years and months,” said DOH-Orange Health Officer Dr. Kevin Sherin.  “The results indicate food security, affordable housing, and jobs are all important social determinants of health in the Hispanic community.”

According to the numbers, Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing minority group in Orange County, thus making it the 3rd highest ranked county in Florida with the most Hispanics.  The assessment recorded a 39.5 percent population growth of Hispanics in Orange County from 2010 to 2016. Hispanics comprise 30.5 percent of the county’s total population with individuals from Puerto Rico and Mexico as the top two countries represented at 44.8 percent and 12.3 percent, respectively.    

Found within the HHA there are several storylines that showcase Hispanic health patterns.  Hispanics play a growing role in the future of Orange County.  They contribute to the economy, cultural diversity, and health of the county. The continuous growth, however, creates new challenges and opportunities for residents, and services providers.  

Like any other American, maintaining a good overall health status is of great importance to many Hispanics.  Hispanics are disproportionally affected by poor conditions of daily life, shaped by structural and social conditions such as: cultural values, income, education, occupation, and social support system, including health services; which are known as the social determinants of health. Although Hispanics face many health disparities when compared to non-Hispanics (as shown in the report), there are some highlights, such as:  cancer rates, which are significantly lower than Non-Hispanics, infant birth weights and smoking during pregnancy less common among Hispanics mothers than Non-Hispanic, just to name a few.  

With the increasing Hispanic population, more collaborative efforts are needed to help provide the best quality of life for all Hispanic residents in the county. This assessment aims to increase knowledge and awareness for policy makers, service providers, and community members in hope to engage in prioritization, strategic planning, partnership development, and intervention implementation to reduce differences in health disparities. 

Some of the recommendations from the Hispanic Health Assessment included: 

• Increase cultural competencies to better understand and cater to the Hispanic population

• Increase social marketing to promote behavior change through population segmentation
• Eliminate language barriers by increasing Spanish speaking staff and/or translations and interpretation services
• Maximize the evaluation and evolution of implemented evidence-based program efforts targeted to the Hispanic population
• Increase access to care through policy changes to help underserved, uninsured, and underinsured Hispanic residents
• Champion and strengthen current Hispanic focused programs to increase community outreach and program effectiveness 

Compiled by DOH-Orange’s Population Health and Quality Improvement Data Manager, Ellis Pérez, the HHA relied on partners to provide expertise and resources to produce a complete and successful appraisal. The vision behind its development was for it to be used to engage community partners in improvement plans and enhance the spread of public health messages. 

The HHA’s graphic summary of the health disparities gathered from the assessment is on the DOH-Orange website at http://orange.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/community-health-planning-and-statistics/. For a copy of the full report please contact Ellis Perez, MPH at Ellis.Perez@flhealth.gov.