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New Health Center Adds ITHS Hispanic Outreach Program

Medical assistant Grace Au with male infant patient

New Health Center Adds ITHS Hispanic Outreach Program

Latino communities in the five-state WWAMI region will soon be benefitting from the synergies that result from combining the efforts of the Hispanic Community Outreach Program (HCOP) with the new Latino Center for Health at the University of Washington.

The HCOP was developed by the Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) in collaboration with the Institute of Translational Health Sciences in 2011 to provide a community-engaged approach to addressing health disparities impacting Latino communities. The HCOP sought to create new partnerships with Latino communities, provide pilot funding, disseminate tools, and facilitate collaborations to help increase community participation in research in the region. To support this vision, HCOP held a regional conference on Latino health research earlier this year that was funded by the National Institutes of Health, ITHS, UW, Group Health, and the Fred Hutch.

“The creation and success of HCOP has been fueled by the desire for community-academic partnerships on the part of Latino community members and academic researchers to address the health concerns experienced by Latinos living in our region,” shared Dr. Leo Morales, HCOP Director, Co-Director of the Latino Center for Health, UW Professor of Medicine, and Chief Diversity Officer for the UW School of Medicine.

Although successful in boosting Latino health research, HCOP reached a crossroads when Dr. Morales was hired as the UW School of Medicine’s Chief Diversity Officer. While HCOP had been a successful ITHS and GHRI program, it made the most sense to transition the program to UW to capitalize on Dr. Morales’ expertise as well as potential benefits from integration with the new Latino Center for Health.

“Group Health has long been committed to reducing health disparities,” said Dr. Eric Larson, Vice President for Research at Group Health and Executive Director & Senior Investigator at GHRI. “When Leo Morales was on the faculty at Group Health Research Institute, we supported his leadership in developing a community-focused approach to addressing health disparities in Latino communities statewide. The program has generated widespread support and will clearly help our state and its communities improve individual and public health. We are delighted to see that the HCOP will be part of the new Latino Center for Health at the UW.”

The Latino Center for Health was officially launched earlier this year under the co-direction of Dr. Morales and Dr. Gino Aisenberg, Associate Professor of Social Work and Associate Dean of the UW Graduate School. The mission of the Center is to provide the leadership necessary to promote the health and well-being of Latinos across the lifespan. The Center seeks to accomplish this mission through programs that address health access, utilization, behavioral health, occupational health, violence prevention, and collaborations.

“We are extremely pleased that Dr. Morales has chosen to house the HCOP within the new Latino Center for Health,” said Dr. Mary L. (Nora) Disis, Principal Investigator of ITHS. “We believe the HCOP is a natural fit with the mission of the Center, and we look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Morales to help promote the health of Latinos in our region.”

Please visit the Latino Center for Health’s website to learn more about its mission and programs.