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Spotlight on Equity Center Trainee: Tanya Olmos, MPH

Growing up in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, Tanya Olmos, MPH, saw friends and family deal with a multitude of barriers to receiving equitable, adequate health care.

“It was—and is—common to see children translating for parents during medical encounters, and many of my friends and family would forgo medical services for fear of the cost or inability to leave work [to attend an appointment],” says Olmos.

Now, as a PhD student in Health Policy & Management at the Fielding School of Public Health, Olmos is able to translate her passion for her community into actionable insights and innovations to improve health equity.

Her dissertation project is an evaluation of the effectiveness of clinical preventive services offered at urban health fairs via a collaboration between Providence Health and Services and thirty-seven faith-based organizations in Los Angeles County. Most participants served by the health fairs are un- or underinsured and belong to racial/ethnic minority groups that have traditionally lacked access to primary health care.

The dissertation aims to: (1) describe the health fair participant population and assess the geographic reach of the health fair program in relation to areas of greatest need; (2) assess participant satisfaction and identify participant preferences in the delivery of clinical preventive services to inform future delivery efforts; and (3) explore the barriers and facilitators to establishing, implementing, and sustaining a clinical-community relationship for clinical preventive services delivery.

Olmos and her collaborators, Center Director Dr. Roshan Bastani and Associate Director Dr. Beth Glenn, overcame challenges in undertaking this thorough evaluation project.

“The first step to evaluate the program was to custom-build a database and input over 5,000 individual health fair participant records with the help of a team of undergraduate volunteers. That was a big challenge and the database took over 9 months to build.”

But she’s been able to witness the great rewards of working with a team to understand the impact of the urban health fairs, too.

“As the [urban health fair] team has become more involved in the evaluation process, they have renewed their interest in better documentation of their processes and the project has generated a lot of self-reflection about the way they provide services.”

Olmos hopes to continue the work she has begun during her PhD training program by conducting research to improve health services delivery in community settings to reduce health disparities.

“The dissertation topic has been a great way for me to come back to my community,” she says.