Kansas Employees Join Local Organizations to Promote Health Equity

life giving centerIn a concerted effort to address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, communities of Barton County in Kansas embarked on a transformative journey in partnership with Communities Organizing to Promote Equity (COPE), the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This initiative, known as the Local Health Equity Action Teams (LHEATs), is aimed at promoting health equity, particularly considering the pandemic’s impact on under-resourced communities.

Under the guidance of COPE, Barton County established a Local Health Equity Action Team (LHEAT) in early 2022, comprised of dedicated community leaders and community health workers (CHWs). These teams have been instrumental in creating opportunities for diverse stakeholders to work together in addressing health disparities, particularly those exacerbated by COVID-19.

The success of this initiative has been made possible through the support of key funding partners, including the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC), KDHE, and the CDC. These organizations have played a crucial role in enabling Barton County to take significant steps toward reducing barriers to health and well-being.

Employees Becca Maxwell of Ellinwood, KS and Kristin McAllister of Great Bend, KS, joined this team to aid the cause and reiterate the bank's support of its communities. We are proud of the work they have been able to perform while representing Sunflower Bank, N.A., who was the only for-profit organization in the state of Kansas to support this initiative.

In addition to the formation of the LHEAT, these additional efforts were a part of this initiative:

  • Community Health Worker (CHW) Hiring and Training – A dedicated CHW was hired to implement local activities designed to address health inequities. This dedicated CHW is the driving force behind LHEAT activities and helps build trust and rapport within the community.
  • Learning Collaboratives – Supported by KUMC, learning collaboratives for LHEATs and CHWs meet regularly to provide a platform for sharing successful strategies, fostering innovation, and addressing challenges collectively.
  • Grant Assistance – The KDHE worked closely with the LHEAT to assist in establishing other grants for Barton County communities.

This collaborative effort in Barton County serves as a shining example of communities coming together to address health disparities exacerbated by the pandemic. With dedicated partners and a commitment to health equity, the LHEAT initiative continues to make a positive impact on the lives of residents in Barton County and beyond. We are proud to have a small part in such a large impact in one of our communities.