City of San Antonio Awarded $4 Million Health Literacy Grant by HHS to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19 Among Underserved Residents
City of San Antonio Awarded $4 Million Health Literacy Grant by HHS to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19 Among Underserved Residents

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: covid19media@sanantonio.gov
Rudy Arispe: (210) 207-8172

Will Sansom, UT Health San Antonio

(210) 567-2579, sansom@uthscsa.edu


SAN ANTONIO (December 2, 2021) – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health recently awarded the City of San Antonio a $4 million health literacy grant to assist the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District in its efforts to improve health literacy related to COVID-19 among minority and underserved San Antonio and Bexar County residents.

The HHS award is part of $250 million in grant awards to 73 local governments as part of a new, two-year initiative to identify and implement best practices for improving health literacy to enhance COVID-19 vaccinations and other mitigation practices among underserved populations.

The City of San Antonio and Dallas County are the only two local governments in Texas awarded this grant.

“We are pleased to have been awarded this health literacy grant, which Metro Health and its health partners will use to help educate underserved residents about what they can do to protect themselves against COVID-19,” said Metro Health Director Claude A. Jacob. “We are also grateful for the robust collaboration with our partners, UTSA and UT Health San Antonio, to ensure the success of this national demonstration project.”

Through participation in the Community and Stakeholder Advisory Committee of the COVID-19 Community Response and Equity Coalition (CREC), Metro Health is partnering with UTSA and UT Health San Antonio to achieve the goal to provide preventive health services among residents of color. Metro Health will have administrative and fiduciary oversight. UTSA will lead the quality improvement and project evaluation and co-lead the health literacy plan development. UT Health San Antonio will co-lead the health literacy plan development and spearhead partnership development and health literacy plan implementation.

“We are incredibly excited to be a part of this project, working with our partners to increase access and use reliable COVID-19 information and empower communities to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said UTSA Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Research Erica Sosa.  “We look forward to leading the evaluation and quality improvement research of this project to identify effective strategies we can use in the future. This project furthers both the mission of our Center for Community Based and Applied Health Research and our new College for Health, Community and Policy at UTSA to increase health equity and improve the well-being of communities.”

“Our team will work with San Antonio’s trusted natural leaders to create and share health-promoting messages tailored for our local culture and context,” said UT Health San Antonio Assistant Professor Dr. Jason Rosenfeld. “This strategy will ensure community members see and hear themselves in this content, not some distant leader or institution, which will build trust and confidence in our health and social service providers. This project will serve as an example that other minority-majority cities across the United States can replicate to increase community engagement and improve health equity.”

The joint project is named Health Confianza to convey what the health organizations aim to achieve: trust and confidence in health information and services throughout marginalized communities.

The goal of the Metro Health’s health literacy plan is to increase the availability, acceptability and use of vital information and services by Latinos and African Americans living in 22 priority zip codes to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

These goals are to be achieved by 1) improving interpersonal health communications between community members and health care providers, community health workers and natural community leaders; 2) increasing access to and use of COVID-19 information and resources among community members; and 3) increasing the number of health organizations serving the community that adopt health literacy practices, all by June 2023.

“This project provides a unique opportunity to share lessons learned from our ongoing COVID-19 response efforts on the ground. The Community Response and Equity Coalition hopes to rebuild and strengthen trust in our communities through the work with our health organizations and instill confidence within our community members,” Jacob said. “The focus of the project is to provide information so that residents can be empowered to make the best decisions for their health and well-being.”

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