Health Equity Projects

COVID-19 Response Projects

  • Social Supports Program: Providing temporary Social Support services for individuals who must quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19 and community-wide outreach and education regarding COVID-19 prevention, testing, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine. Social Support services include assessing needs, shelter/housing, food related support, case management, and transportation related services to eligible individuals.
  • Health Equity Improvement Initiative: Supporting culturally tailored COVID-19 physical distancing and public health prevention, education, and social support activities. Also includes all the activities listed above in Social Supports.
  • Vaccine Equity Program: Provide support for services necessary to ensure the equitable distribution and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine support includes assessing needs, implementing community engagement strategies to promote vaccine, increasing vaccine confidence through education and outreach,

Addressing Root Causes of COVID-19 Disparities

OPHE, in partnership with other offices across Maine DHHS, is overseeing a series of new initiatives to advance health equity in communities at higher risk of COVID-19, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural communities. This effort is supported by a $32.1 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC).

Key Strategies

  • Data and Reporting: Increase/improve data collection and reporting for populations experiencing a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 infection, severe illness, and death to guide the response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Infrastructure Support: Build, leverage, and expand infrastructure support for COVID-19 prevention and control among populations that are at higher risk and underserved
  • Partner Mobilization: Mobilize partners and collaborators to advance health equity and address social determinants of health as they relate to COVID-19 health disparities among populations at higher risk and that are underserved

Outreach and Engagement


Data and Reporting Initiatives

Unified Persons Registry

A Unified Persons Registry is intended to connect individuals across existing DHHS databases to help fill gaps in missing data, especially around demographics (including race, ethnicity, and address/geography).

Community-Led Needs Assessment

Community-led and developed needs assessments among targeted communities to reduce COVID-19 related health disparities will be used to further community-based organization capacity as well as inform strategic direction of Maine DHHS and CDC.

Perinatal Disparities in Maine

A comprehensive needs assessment to examine disparities and develop infrastructure to improve maternity and perinatal services in Maine with a focus on people of color and people in rural communities, and in particular, the effect of COVID-19 on these disparities.

Infrastructure Support Initiatives

Health Equity Advisory Councils

Establishment of Advisory Councils for the Office of Population Health Equity comprised of community leaders and health equity practitioners to inform OPHE’s strategy.

Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Member Communications

Interrelated projects based in the Office of MaineCare Services and the Office of Family Independence aimed at improving culturally and linguistically appropriate messaging across DHHS.

Department-wide Capacity Building Projects

Initiatives to improve the Department's ability to implement racial equity-informed strategies and advance structural change within the Department. Activities will focus on staff trainings on equity-informed policymaking, improvements to procurement systems to increase engagement and awards for businesses and organizations led by people of color, and other activities in alignment with DHHS’s Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (PDF).

Rural Health Networks & Rural Workforce Development

This project aims to address these workforce challenges and shortages in rural Maine. Activities may include engaging in workforce recruitment and retention strategies; providing educational trainings; supporting pipeline programs; having a health care employment track within rural schools to offer employment, training/certifications, and employment advancement opportunities for new health care workforce; providing support for public health infrastructure to enhance testing, contact tracing, and vaccinations activities in rural communities with new or advancing workforce personnel in rural communities.

Rural E-Consult Expansion

This project will support implementation, engagement, and training strategies to enable adoption and utilization of specialty medical eConsults in rural communities across Maine, with the goal of improving broader and more timely access to specialty medical consultation services.

Partner Mobilization Initiatives

Community Health Workers

This project supports the training and deployment of CHWs to COVID-19 response efforts to build and strengthen community resilience to fight COVID-19 by addressing health disparities. It will also assist DHHS and the Office of MaineCare in determining best practices for training of CHWs and long-term payment methods.

Health Equity Infrastructure and Technical Assistance

The Health Equity Infrastructure and Technical Assistance Fund will invest in capacity building for Tribal Nations and community-led Community-Based Organizations (CBOs). Investments will focus on enhancing financial/IT, data collection/reporting systems, infrastructure, strategic planning, and pilot projects and collective efforts to address health disparities in their community.

District Public Health Emergency Preparedness

Convene partners such as Public Health Emergency Preparedness, Emergency Management Agencies, Area Agencies on Aging, Rural Hospitals/Healthcare Providers (RHC/FQHC), Oral Health Providers, Assisted Living Facilities, School Districts/Systems, and other CBOs to address and resolve identified disparities. Develop policies and protocols for emergency response, define roles and responsibilities and resources to be provided in the event of any public health emergency response.

Addressing Rural Health-Related Social Needs

Support the development and initial implementation of a pilot project in an identified rural community that would bring together community-based organizations and health care providers to better identify and address the health-related social needs of individuals in rural communities.

Rural School-Based Health Centers

This project will focus on infrastructure to address oral health and mental health care coordination services in rural school-based settings and the connection between these services and COVID-19 disparities among children in rural communities.