Indiana/Armstrong Rural Health Initiative

Lunch & Learn Sessions
New Lunch & Learn Sessions accounced! Flyers are below, click to enlarge.

December 8, 2023 – Elevating Voices of People with Disabilities in Healthcare, from 12:00 – 1:30 PM.

December 12, 2023 – Accessible and Alternative Health Care Delivery, from 12:00 – 1:30 PM.

December 19, 2023 – Disability-Inclusive Healthcare Systems, from 12:00 – 1:30 PM

UPDATE – September 2023: After 2-1/2 years of research and findings, we are excited to share with you that the COVID-19 Health Disparities Statewide Leadership Task Force has released the Recommendations To Reduce COVID-19 Health Differences for People with Disabilities Report.

Funded by the PA Department of Health, the initiative is convening health care and disability stakeholders from all over the Commonwealth to explore questions related to health care barriers and disparities, collecting and realizing positive actionable solutions to ensure quality and longevity of life for individuals with disabilities. Click here for a copy of the Health Care Barriers Report. See other links to the report below.

This initiative provided in conjunction with The Arc of Pennsylvania.

The Arc of Pennsylvania logo

Purpose of the Initiative

Throughout the pandemic, people with disabilities, especially those from marginalized racial and ethnic minority groups and rural communities faced inequities and a lack of support services during COVID-19. People with disabilities faced barriers to accessible information (Braille, Multicultural, etc.), access to testing and necessary accommodations, and were at increased risk for mortality due to COVID-19. The COVID-19 response plans did not adequately respond to the needs of the disability community.
The purpose of the initiative is to bring together disability stakeholders and healthcare provider stakeholders to discuss the COVID-19 disparities in the disability community. We will develop an accessible media campaign to educate on mitigation efforts on COVID-19. We will report to the PA Department of Health, Findings and Recommendations: COVID-19 Health Disparities Among the Disability Community.

  • Establishment of state and regional cross-sectoral partnerships to align public health, healthcare, disability, and non-health interventions on behalf of the disability community across diverse racial, ethnic, and geographic populations.
  • Education campaign materials to ensure that information regarding healthcare and COVID-19 is accessible and available to individuals with disabilities including non-English speaking populations.
  • Training materials to aid local communities in mitigating the effects of COVID-19, dispelling misinformation, improving trust in the public system, and ensuring that people with disabilities (across diverse racial, ethnic, and geographic populations) receive equitable access to COVID-19 prevention, mitigation, and support services.
  • Report to the PA Department of Health, Findings and Recommendations: COVID-19 Health Disparities Among the Disability Community, including a Health Equity Plan.
Desired Outcomes
Adoption and implementation of the Findings and Recommendations report recommendations will result in:
  • Improved state and local health department capacity and services to prevent and control COVID-19 infection (or transmission);
  • Improved and increased testing and contact tracing; and
  • Reduced COVID-19-related health disparities for individuals with disabilities, including those in racial and ethnic minority groups and living in rural communities.
How to Get Involved
  • Attend Listening Tours to make sure all voices are heard and all stories are told about experiences during the pandemic.

Click here for the next Listening Tour and registration link to participate.

The Arc PA is hosting Listening Tours in January in conjunction with the Initiative to address COVID Healthcare Disparities for people with disabilities and we need your help to share the word, as well as joining a session. Please invite your members, families, and community members/partners to participate and to share the link with others that may be willing to share their stories of strengths, barriers and outcomes during the start of the pandemic to today.

  • Join the Stakeholder Workgroup

The group meets quarterly to address specific topics with the Arc of Pa experienced by service providers, community leaders, first responders and emergency management personal, medical and mental health professionals and interested community members.

Click here to register to join the Stakeholder Workgroup. Register with the Arc of PA to join the workgroup and you will be able to access meeting notes and future initiative information.

The workgroup is using the Regional Community Work Group Sign-up, you should have received an invitation to access the shared site (check your spam/junk folder). Please email Nancy Shirley, if you did not receive an invite. The registration link is available here and you will be invited. Our Region is Armstrong Indiana Counties.

Contact Michelle Jordan , Executive Director of The Arc of Indiana County, to get the zoom link for the Workgroup meeting and dates/times.

  • Assist with Initiative surveys, and media campaigns to distribute CDC guidelines and information throughout community contacts and networks.
  • Assist self-advocates to attend the Listening Tours or Workgroup to bring their stories and experiences, ensuring their voices are heard concerning the effects, barriers and disparities experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Complete the first survey to assist with the collection of data and research concerning experiences with the pandemic. The survey is available here
  • View and share CDC information for individuals with disabilities: Share CDC Resources for people with disabilities via email, social media, print. This information is available here and here
  • Share video or text stories of experiences during the pandemic. Send stories by February 4, 2022 by uploading recordings, surveys, or word docs with information to Nancy Shirley

Research from the past year can be found at the following links:

Full Version English
Full Version Spanish
Plain Language Version English
Plain Language Version Spanish

This project is funded through the Pennsylvania Department of Health and
Human Services and the Pennsylvania Center for Disease Control