EQUITY POLICY COUNCIL
About the Council
The Central Health Equity Policy (CHEP) Council launched in September 2015 and includes members from over 70 community partners.
The CHEP Council includes policy, data, and community experts that are passionate about health issues concerning our community. All members have received training on evidence-based best practices and innovative policies from local, state and national experts.
The CHEP Council provides recommendations for local chronic disease prevention policies inside the geographic boundaries of Travis County, Texas. The population of concern is residents of Travis County at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.
The CHEP Council defines health equity as equal access to health care and support regardless of one’s social determinants of health or demographic profile.
Wellness for all through health equity in our community.
Identify and advance effective health equity and wellness policies for Travis County residents.
Be committed to the vision and mission of the Council
Bring evidence-based, best practice information back to the Council for planning and decision-making
Serve as an effective liaison between your agency and key stakeholders and the Council
Commitment to work in the public interest using your expertise to create health equity in Travis County
Attend annual Council at Large meeting
Inform the annual policy agenda
Participate in ad hoc committee upon request (this may require a monthly meeting commitment during a policy initiative
Contribute personal and/or professional time upon request and according to availability
2022 Initiative - Health Equality Index
The Central Health Equity Policy (CHEP) is convening several Travis County health organizations to embrace the tenets of the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), a national benchmarking tool for healthcare organizations to evaluate their level of care for the LGBTQIA+ community.
HRC developed the HEI to ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer patients receive equitable, knowledgeable, sensitive, and welcoming healthcare, free from discrimination. The HEI rates more than 2,200 healthcare facilities nationwide.
The Central Health Equity Policy (CHEP) Council chose the HEI initiative as its priority policy initiative in 2020, which was put on hold until this year because of COVID-19. The CHEP includes volunteers representing more than 70 community partners who are experts in policy, data, and community, and who are passionate about health issues affecting Travis County.
According to the HEI 2022 report, LGBTQIA+ patients face significant challenges in healthcare: 56% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people surveyed report experiences of serious discrimination in healthcare, while 70% of transgender people surveyed report serious discrimination.
According to QWELL, Greater Austin’s LGBTQIA+ Community Foundation data reveals:
- 47% of LGBQTIA+ patients have had a healthcare employee make cisgender and/or heterosexual assumptions about them (e.g., assuming who they would be interested in sexually/romantically, assuming body parts they may have).
- 30% have been misgendered at a healthcare appointment.
- 55% have had a negative healthcare experience related to their LGBTQIA+ identities.
The HEI enables healthcare organizations to assess their own policies and practices vis-à-vis these requirements and recommendations and equips them with the training and resources they need to remedy gaps. It also enables organizations to receive public recognition for their commitment to equity and inclusion.
There are four criteria to earn the HEI designation:
- The Non-Discrimination and Staff Training criteria represents policies and practices that are considered foundational to LGBTQIA+ patient-centered care;
- The LGBTQIA+ Patient Services section is designed to familiarize an organization with the best practices from The Joint Commission and other sources to enhance care to LGBTQIA+ patients;
- Employee Benefits and Policies criteria focuses on the employee as much as the patient in providing inclusive care; and,
- The Patient & Community Engagement criteria focuses on community outreach and promotion to let the LGBTQIA+ community know you are a welcoming and affirming facility, working toward LGBTQIA+ inclusion.
For more information contact Megan Cermak at (512) 978-8172 or MEGAN.CERMAK@CENTRALHEALTH.NET.
BOOK CLUB (Ongoing)
CHEP Council members started a book club in early 2021 to expand their knowledge about health equity. The first book was Well: What We Need to Talk About When We Talk About Health by Sandro Galea.
“Well is a radical examination of the subtle and not-so-subtle factors that determine who gets to be healthy in America. Galea shows how the country’s failing health is a product of American history and character — and how refocusing on our national health can usher enlightenment across American life and politics.” (Goodreads.com)
The book list will be updated as more books are read and discussed.
PANDEMIC EQUITY COMMITTEE (2020-2021)
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a Pandemic Equity Committee was formed to evaluate the Austin-Travis County disaster response and to conduct research on how to improve future responses by making them more equitable.
The Committee put forward a memorandum to Austin City Council and the Travis County Commissioners Court outlining recommendations for three categories:
- Disaster preparedness
- Disaster response
- Post-disaster recovery
HIV SCREENING OPT-OUT POLICY (2018-2019)
In 2018, the CHEP Council kicked off its third initiative, which centered around implementing an HIV screening opt-out policy at safety-net provider clinics in Travis County. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends testing all health care patients for HIV––regardless of their reported risk behaviors––using an “opt–out” approach in which patients are informed that an HIV test will be conducted unless they explicitly decline to be tested.
The CHEP Council worked with the following providers to successfully adopt, implement, or strengthen the screening policy:
- St. David’s South Austin Medical Center
- El Buen Samaritano
- People’s Community Clinic
The coalition also partnered with the University of Texas LBJ students who created an algorithm that determines the cost of screening for healthcare systems, how many more years of life are saved by the additional screening and quality of life-years adjusted.
RECESS POLICY (2017-2018)
The CHEP Council took up its second initiative around recess policy in 2017. Building on the momentum of Austin ISD adopting a model recess policy, the CHEP Council advocated for recess policies in the Manor and Leander ISDs.
SCHOOL DISTRICT POLICY ADOPTIONS
Leander ISD Recess Checklist
AUSTIN BREATHES VAPE FREE AIR (2016-2017)
As their first initiative, the CHEP Council worked on and successfully passed a City of Austin ordinance in 2017 to prohibit electronic smoking devices anywhere smoking is prohibited.
Interested in joining?
Call 512.978.8172, or email Manager of Community and Population Health Strategy Megan Cermak.