The National Civic League, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is proud to announce the first winners of the RWJF-NCL Award for Health Equity: Dr. Terri Richardson and Ms. Thelma Craig for their work with the Colorado Black Health Collaborative.   

The RWJF-NCL Award for Health Equity recognizes incredible individuals who are working to promote health equity through resident engagement and systemic change efforts.  These individuals are helping to create a culture of health in their community.  Read below to learn more about the work of Dr. Richardson and Ms. Craig and the Colorado Black Health Collaborative.

In 2008, after hosting an event focused on addressing health issues in the black community, Thelma Craig and Dr. Terri Richardson recognized that achieving health equity required far more than just episodic events.  Members of the community said, “you can’t just come once and leave” – it was clear that an ongoing and concerted effort was needed to move the needle on health equity. In response, to those concerns, the Colorado Black Health Collaborative was formed. Collaborative efforts are guided by a Coalition of community members including medical professionals, financial and government professionals, professionals from other non-profit agencies, college students, members of the community-at-large and others all of whom are invested in in addressing and reducing health disparities in the community.

Since the early days, Thelma and Terri have been at the helm of planning, coordinating and hosting quarterly health forums, annual family reunions, workshops, and executing the Barbershop/Salon Program.  The barbershop/salon program provides blood pressure screenings and information about diabetes, heart attack and strokes to patrons.

With Thelma and Terri’s leadership CBHC has worked with members of the African American community to identify and implement culturally responsive strategies to reduce health disparities, and to select target areas for future work.  The areas targeted include neighborhoods with high populations of Black/African Americans, including Black immigrants and refugees. In these targeted communities, CBHC has worked to increase the number of people with access to opportunities for chronic disease prevention, risk reduction, and community linkages. CBHC is partnering with clinics to enhance: clinical referrals to culturally competent community-based chronic disease prevention, 2) management services for its Black/African American patients.  CBHC also works with clinics to identify which community-based chronic disease services should be added to the referral system and train care coordinators, patient navigators in the enhanced referral system.

Capitalizing on its strong relationships with community groups, CBHC obtained the commitment of 23 local community providers who offer health, fitness and wellness services for the community. These providers include everything from church health ministries, to exercise/fitness classes, to healthy eating resources and services. CBHC has established partnerships with six clinics to improve access to care for the Black Community. CBHC developed Linkage-to-Care (LTC) training, including a Cultural Competency (CC) training to assess how these clinics were doing with connecting with the black community and in providing them with health care.

CBHC has also worked to develop a comprehensive communications plan for doctors at the clinics, patients and community providers. The communication theme is “Form a Lifetime of Optimal Wellness” (FLOW). For instance, CBHC created a FLOW Line - an information line that refers community-based resources and specific clinics, offering chronic disease prevention and management services.

As winners of the RWJF-NCL Award for Health Equity, Ms. Craig and Dr. Richardson will be honored at the 2016 All-America City Award conference.