Structure of the Great Lakes Regional Health Equity Council

The Great Lakes Regional Health Equity Council (Great Lakes RHEC) aims to increase health equity and end health disparities in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

The Great Lakes RHEC has identified three priority areas and three cross-cutting activities for their region. The cross-cutting activities as identified by each state follow:

The Great Lakes RHEC maintains a diverse membership representing several sectors such as academia, healthcare providers, payers, independent consultants, non-profit advocacy groups, and state government. The Great Lakes RHEC’s diversity ensures adequate input from a wide variety of sectors in the council’s efforts to understand and address health disparities in the region. The council has currently has 29 voting members.

The Council’s activities are coordinated by three co-chairs, and directed by three committees, each led by a co-chair. Committees include: Information and Communication, Recruitment and Retention, and Social Determinants of Health (SDoH). The SDoH Committee is comprised of the Community Health Workers (CHWs), Data, and Policy workgroups. 

Areas of Focus: 
The Great Lakes RHEC also will focus on cross-cutting activities as identified by each state: 

Indiana: Developing strategies using SDoH as they relate to maternal health and mental health and to ongoing active support of the state’s CHW association

Minnesota: Developing strategies using SDoH as they relate to infant mortality and National CLAS Standards

Illinois: Developing strategies to leverage the health care-related work of the Illinois CHW Advisory Board and focus on SDoH to eliminate health disparities as they relate to infant mortality

Michigan: Developing strategies supporting the Michigan Community Health Worker Alliance (MiCHWA) while aligning those strategies with SDoH

Ohio: Working collaboratively with the Ohio Office of Minority Health in the development of standards for CHWs and finding success stories in order to create awareness. Identifying opportunities for RHEC member to support state programs to reduce health disparities in infant mortality.

Wisconsin: Continue to work collaboratively with established network to support CHWs by focusing on funding, empowerment training, and working with other professions.

Ongoing Activities and Accomplishments:
  • Developed the Great Lakes Facebook page and Twitter account to track healthcare, health disparities, and health equity initiatives taking place in Great Lakes Region. 
  • Annual Meeting Review and Assessment meetings 
  • In collaboration with the Community Health Workers Association in Region V, co-sponsored the Region V CHW Summit prior to the APHA Conference (October 2015 and November 2017) 
  • Several members joined the Cross-RHEC CHW Coalition to work collectively to address health disparities and SDoH, especially in underserved communities. An RHEC V member serves as one of the coalition’s co-chairs.
Materials and media releases:
  • NPA Blog posts by RHEC members, including: 
    • Reducing Health Disparities in Michigan: Paving the Way Through a Roadmap for Health Equity, Part 1 and Part 2, by Sheryl Weir, Section Manager, Michigan Department of Community Health, Health Disparities Reduction and Minority Health Section 
    • eHealth Equity: What Can Texts Do About It? Part 1 and Part 2, by Silas Buchanan, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for eHealth Equity, and Advisory Board Chair of