BLOG: Can Cultural Competency Make a Difference in Health Outcomes Locally?

Categories: Blog, Featured News

CLC-training-small-graphic_760x425In this great nation, cultural demographics are not only changing nationally, but locally. It is estimated that by 2018 more than half of the nation’s children are expected to be part of a minority race or ethnic group, and the United States is projected to become a majority minority nation for the first time in the year 2050. In the state of Ohio, we are also experiencing growth and change. Estimates show Ohio’s foreign-born population was 13.1% in 2014, with the top four countries of birth of legal permanent residents being from Somalia, India, China and Mexico.

Ohio faces a number of disparate health outcomes that are the result of a lack of knowledge and understanding about the diverse racial and ethnic populations being served. This challenge sparks a greater need to understand how to effectively engage and serve all populations that reside in Stark County. Through StarkMHAR, the Stark County Cultural Competence and Learning Community and Committee (SC3C) will host its first ever Population Focused Learning Series that highlights various communities in Stark County. Starting in 2017, populations highlighted will include the Hispanic/Latino, African-American, Youth and Young Adult and Appalachian communities. In the year 2018, additional populations will be highlighted including Faith-based, LGBTQ and Amish populations. Objectives for the Population Focused Learning Series include both efforts to reduce disparities and improve the quality of service and outcomes.

Cultural competence benefits consumers, stakeholders and communities as well as supports positive health outcomes. Research has shown that the interventions that are successful in changing performance and health care outcomes are those that practice enabling strategies and reinforce methods of patient education. Studies suggest that an educational intervention has the best chance of having an impact on health care outcomes if it is multifaceted and inclusive of key components such as: focusing on specific clinical conditions, targeting a particular population, teaching specific skills, developing practice-enabling strategies and creating a patient component to measure provider and patient satisfaction. As we strive to meet other challenges in health care in America, we should focus on developing the skills needed to care for diverse populations.

Learn more about Culturally and Linguistically Competent Care » and find more information as well as register for the Population Focused Learning Series trainings »

Interested in learning more about Cultural Competence? Find out more about the Stark County Cultural Competence and Learning Community and Committee (SC3C) by contacting or 330-455-6644.


About Jessica Zavala

Jessica Zavala joined the clinical team at Stark Mental Health & Addiction Recovery in October of 2014 as the Community Engagement-Youth Services Coordinator. At StarkMHAR, Jessica supports efforts and partnerships that improve access, quality and utilization of service within culturally diverse communities. She also monitors and reviews programs that serve traditionally underserved populations as well as youth and family programs. In addition, Jessica is responsible for supporting school district and school-based promotional activities that promote resiliency and improve recovery outcomes, including participation in Care Team initiatives. Jessica is currently a Youth Mental Health First Aid and Cultural Competency Trainer. Prior to Jessica’s role in the clinical department, she joined StarkMHAR in 2013 as the Electronic Health Records Specialist relocating from Arizona where she was employed by Arizona’s Children Association. While employed in Arizona, Jessica assisted in the facilitation of statewide training for agency staff using NEXTGEN. In addition to the electronic software efforts, Jessica developed service programs with the collaboration of key community stakeholders to implement, monitor and plan behavioral health services for families and children with varying service needs. Jessica’s role also included assessing substance exposed newborns (birth to 5) and children through agency partnership with Child Protective Services and Best for Babies, a local collaborative. Jessica also was employed by an Outpatient Community-Based Mental Health Organization prior to her tenure in Arizona and had an active role in consumer treatment services. Jessica has a Bachelor’s in Sociology from the University of Akron, a certificate of Business Management Technology and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Leadership. Jessica is also bilingual and speaks Spanish fluently.