What’s new at the VDH, Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE)? First, we are happy to report that we have a new CLAS Specialist, Valerie McAllister. Valerie joined our staff in January and she has been working on a number of initiatives to address providing cultural and linguistic appropriate services within the Commonwealth. One notable new initiative that Valerie is leading, that may be very helpful for your organization and community. At our 2009 Virginia Health Equity Conference, a significant number of attendees identified the need to enhance providing culturally competent healthcare services to rural and urban LEP (Limited English Proficiency) individuals in the Commonwealth. The attendees felt that there was a need to establish a Statewide Medical Interpreter Collaborative
Network. The Network would embark upon: • Identifying availability of medical interpreter services in communities • Identifying barriers and opportunities to serving the LEP population • Collaboration and sharing of existing resources • Developing opportunities to create new resources • Establish statewide priorities in field of medical interpretation. To begin to assess and address these needs, the OMHHE has hired two Medical Interpreter Network Coordinators who will canvass the state, reaching out to community partners to identify opportunities to bring resources together, setting up regional meetings to establish interest and build upon ideas, and define individual and community goals. Our Medical Interpreter Network Coordinators are: Mayra Creed of Newport News and Dr. Wendy Welch of Big Stone Gap, Virginia.