CMS Announces 2024 CMS Health Equity Award Recipients

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is proud to announce the recipients of the 2024 CMS Health Equity Award. The CMS Health Equity Award is awarded to organizations working towards advancing health equity by reducing disparities in health care access, quality, and outcomes.

The CMS Health Equity Awardees at the CMS Health Equity Conference on May 30, 2024.

The 2024 CMS Health Equity Award Recipients are:

Latino Connection, Harrisburg, PA, Community-Accessible Testing & Education (CATE) Initiative (provided by Latino Connection)

In 2014, George Fernandez founded a community-based organization, Latino Connection, in the heart of Pennsylvania to create and activate programming in low-income communities to address every aspect of the social determinants of health. Their Community-Accessible Testing & Education (CATE) initiative was launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with the aim of addressing disparities in access to essential resources and education among underserved communities. With Latino Connection being the first Latino and LGBTQ+ organization to launch such a program, CATE represents a groundbreaking effort to provide critical support to populations disproportionately affected by the pandemic, including minorities, low-income individuals, LGBTQ+ communities, and those residing in urban areas.

CATE has successfully reached thousands of Pennsylvanians with lifesaving resources and education. Between 2020 and 2022, nearly 9,000 COVID-19 tests and over 17,000 vaccinations were administered across the state, particularly in vulnerable and underserved communities who may not have had access otherwise. CATE also provided 500 flu shots and 10,000 PPE kits, resources, and education in both English and Spanish to the more than 37,000 people that attended all their community events combined. Latino Connection’s CATE initiative exemplifies the transformative power of community-driven interventions in addressing health disparities.

By prioritizing inclusivity, accessibility, and collaboration, CATE has not only provided critical support during the COVID-19 pandemic but has also laid the groundwork for long-term improvements in health equity across Pennsylvania.

Augusta Health, Shenandoah Valley, VA, Primary Care Mobile Clinic Program (provided by Augusta Health)

Celebrating its 30th Anniversary, Augusta Health is a 255-bed, non-profit, independent hospital serving communities of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, in a semi-rural setting. Embracing their vision to be “a national model for community-based healthcare”, Augusta Health reaches out to neighborhoods with rural geographic barriers and local cities with high poverty rates and adverse social and health barriers. One of the ways they respond to acute deficits in access to health care in the community is through the implementation and growth of their Primary Care Mobile Clinic program (Today known as the Augusta Health Neighborhood Clinics).

Since its official launch in September 2022, the Primary Care Mobile Clinic program has expanded to operate at 14 unique sites each month. Sites have included community centers, churches, a fire house, the mayor’s office, and homeless shelters. Neighborhood selection is based on identifying communities in the most need through analysis using the University of Wisconsin’s Area Deprivation Index (ADI) score and mapping techniques.  Building upon the analytics, the key component for their success is having community partners with local expertise in key social services like housing and food insecurity.

Within the first full year of the program, the Primary Mobile Clinic has provided more than 1,700 primary care visits for 825 patients at 17 different community sites. Services vary by location and are based on community need.

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