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Office in Department of Health is dedicated to supporting, educating & planning for provision of public health to persons from disadvantaged backgrounds, rural areas
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz was joined Friday by Erie County Legislature Chair April N.M. Baskin (2nd district) and legislators Howard Johnson (1st district) and Lisa Chimera (3rd district) as he signed the Erie County Health Equity Act of 2021 into law. Local Law Intro. No. 3-1-2021 creates an office of health equity within the Erie County Health Department.
A press release stated, “This new office, headed by Director Kelly Wofford, will help ensure all minority and disadvantaged residents have equal access to preventive health care and will seek ways to promote health and prevent diseases and conditions that are prevalent among minority, marginalized and disadvantaged populations including in rural areas. The OHE is tasked with providing access to health care, health care education, and preventive care resources to underserved and marginalized communities and communities of color.”
The Local Law can be read here.
“The office of health equity will bring a new focus to health care for underserved and disadvantaged communities and populations, and will be a major factor in improving the health not only of these communities but of Erie County overall,” Poloncarz said. “This office will be proactive and engaged countywide, identifying and addressing health issues that have existed for too long while promoting better public health for us all. I thank Legislature Chairwoman Baskin for her vision and work on this issue, as well as legislators Chimera and Johnson, who also recognize the importance of this law. Improving public health means addressing inequities and gaps in how it is delivered, and the office of health equity is designed to do that.”
Baskin said, "Our county has faced its health challenges. From lead poisoning in our old housing stock to the recent cancer cluster on the East Side, we know that people of color and members of other minority communities have been denied access to fair and equitable health care. COVID-19 exposed many of the inherent flaws in our health care system and greatly exacerbated the existing disparities between race, income and gender in our society. The Erie County Division of Health Equity Act will address those disparities by creating an office whose sole responsibility will be to ensure Erie County’s health programs and policies address inequities and are executed in an equitable manner. I want to thank the county executive and my colleagues in the legislature for supporting the creation of this office."