The Anne Arundel County Department of Health’s (DOH) Office of Health Equity and Racial Justice (HERJ) is a winner of the Maryland Association of Counties’ (MACo) County 2020 Innovation Award. According to the MACo website, the award was established to “recognize superb and leading-edge county programs that improve overall quality of life and service delivery for county’s residents.” Award winners are honored for their ability to address issues in their communities while serving the needs of residents in ways that are “outside of the box.”
Of the 35 county programs nominated, “Many programs specifically addressed COVID-related concerns, offering new services and programs to help overcome previously unforeseen issues.”
HERJ is the winner in the urban county category and will be invited to present its program at the 2021 MACo Summer Conference, held August 18-21 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland.
The DOH established HERJ in April 2020. Its mission is to address racism as a public health issue and advocate, educate and implement health equity and racial justice initiatives in the county. HERJ collects, analyzes and reports disaggregated data to identify racial/ethnic, geographic and socioeconomic disparities in health measures. The office works with affected communities, governmental agencies and organizations to identify programs and find solutions.
The Department of Health’s participation on the COVID-19 Care Coordination Team was also nominated for an award in the urban county category. The team provided a rapid response to communities impacted by the coronavirus that had a higher prevalence of positivity. Case managers connected people and families to healthcare, food and other community resources so they could effectively quarantine after a COVID-19 diagnosis.
The Innovation Award is presented through a collaboration between the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance and MACo, with support from the Local Government Insurance Trust. MACo is a nonprofit and non-partisan organization that serves Maryland’s counties by “articulating the needs of local government to the Maryland General Assembly.”