“Welcome To The Neighborhood: Health Care Access for African New Mainers”

Patricia Hart, MS, CPH, Lindsay Gannon, MPA, Holly Lasagna, MLS

Presentation, APHA Annual Meeting, November 2017


Maine is one of the oldest and whitest states (95% Caucasian), with little experience in providing culturally appropriate services to newcomers.  In the past 15 years the population of African immigrants in Lewiston/Auburn has reached 11%. This is a significant issue for health care institutions that are unprepared to provide appropriate services to a growing portion of the community. Issues such as language, religion, gender roles, and race are not well understood by providers and oftentimes ignored. Yet, provider reports of patient miscommunication, lack of follow-through or missing appointments are commonplace.

To fill this need, Healthy Androscoggin, a local community health organization, secured a Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant from the US CDC in 2014 to help local health-related agencies improve their cultural and linguistic competency. The local REACH project worked with providers using a structured process to assess their agency’s cultural competency against national Cultural and Linguistic Appropriate Service (CLAS) standards. The results informed a plan for improvements and included training, tailored interventions, and technical assistance. The goal of the project was to help the agencies increase cultural and linguistic competency ultimately benefiting the whole community. This presentation shares the project outcomes including the improvements made by each agency, client satisfaction, the standards-based replicable process, and the suite of training and technical assistance provided.