Maternal and child health programs focus on health issues concerning women, children and families, such as access to recommended prenatal and well-child care, infant and maternal mortality prevention, maternal and child mental health, newborn screening, child immunizations, child nutrition and services for children with special health care needs
a. Education: Pacific Islander women view the birth of a baby as a natural event not necessarily requiring medical assistance before the baby is born. There is a critical need for health departments to understand this and educate Pacific Islander women about the importance of seeking prenatal care early on and throughout their pregnancies.
b. Training: Staff at MCAH agencies and provider staff are in need of cultural training to better understand the Pacific Islander community. There is a good mental health model used in San Mateo that should be replicated for MCAH agencies and providers across the Bay Area.
c. Awareness of Resources: Pacific Islander women and families may not be aware of the services, programs of MCAH agencies and providers in the counties. To increase awareness, MCAH agencies should prepare and provide a directory of these services.
2. PACIFIC ISLANDER REPRESENTATION
a. Employment: There is a lack of Pacific Islanders employed by MCAH service agencies in the counties. Pacific Islander employees to provide education and services would make a great impact on health outcomes by ensuring that the community is comfortable seeking services and the information is translated into language that they understand. Ravenswood Family Health Center in East Palo Alto is a good model for this, as there are 14 Pacific Islander nurses employed there, leading to good utilization of services for Pacific Islanders at that clinic. Alameda County’s Prenatal Family Health Consultant position is also a good model It is important to note that hiring Pacific Islander employees doesn’t mean that they would only be able to serve Pacific Islanders. They would be professionally trained and well qualified to serve others outside the Pacific Islander community, as well.
3. AGENCY ACCOUNTABILITY AND RESPONSIBILITY
a. Alignment of Services: Pacific Islander women and families are often connected to each other across county lines. MCAH services and programs should therefore not be siloed – counties should align their services across the counties to better serve Pacific Islander populations.
b. Black Infant Health Model: The evidenced-based Black Infant Health programs in all three counties should be replicated for the Pacific Islander community, as it provides exactly the type of education, services and community-building that would be helpful to Pacific Islander women.
c. HOPE-SF Wellness Centers: In San Francisco, the HOPE-SF Wellness Centers and other MCAH providers should rely on Ravenswood Family Health Center as a model. For example, the wall posters and information is all translated into Pacific Islander languages, making it a welcoming and inviting space for the community.
d. Translation: The Pacific Islander Task is an important advisory body for county 6 governments and agencies. If there is a need for translation services, counties should contact the Taskforce first to be referred to a reputable and trusted translation services for the community.
4. DATA COLLECTION
a. Demographic Template: Often times, front line staff at MCAH provider locations do their own assessments of the race of a patient, which often leads to mischaracterization of race. It is important for agencies and providers to standardize the intake process with a template that relies on the self-identification of a client or patient.
b. Threshold Languages: Each county should investigate the proportions of Pacific Islanders in their counties and regularly translate government documents into the Pacific Islander languages that are represented.
5. FUNDING NEEDS
a. Steady source of funding: In the past, Pacific Islander MCAH programs have been discontinued due to lack of dedicated funding. This leads to an interruption in services and frustration for the community, which feels it is not being served adequately. Agencies should there dedicate a steady and consistent source of funding for Pacific Islander-focused MCAH programs.
b. Taskforce Investment Funding: The Pacific Islander Taskforce is meant to serve as a stand alone advisory body for agencies and local governments. For the Pacific Islander Taskforce to sustain itself and remain an important community and agency resource, agencies and city/county governments should commit to the Taskforce’s continued involvement by allocating funding towards the Taskforce’s infrastructural goals.
c. Pacific Islander Community-Based Organization Investment Funding: There are very few Pacific Islander-focused community-based organizations or programs. These existing organizations provide vital work within the community, and agencies and city/county governments should allocate further funding towards these organizations to ensure that they remain a vital community resource.