November 10, 2021 Press Release

Announces 3-year, $10 million proposal to extend Our Healthy KC Eastside project

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. today delivered his 2021 State of County with a central focus on Building a Better, More Equitable Jackson County, announcing a proposed three-year, $10 million extension and expansion to the Our Healthy KC Eastside (OHKCE) program in his 2022 budget. OHKCE is a community-based initiative to address vaccine hesitancy and health inequities in portions of Jackson County identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having exceedingly high socially vulnerable index scores.

This year’s State of the County address was presented virtually due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19 and as a symbol that we can, and must move forward, even if it’s not exactly the same as it once was.

“COVID-19 has caused so much unbearable pain and suffering. Those feelings may diminish over time, but they will never go away,” said Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. “It is my hope that we can use our hurt and heartache to build a future we can all be proud of. For me, that future is building a better, more equitable Jackson County.”

White said a Better Jackson County is focused on improving the customer experience, supporting the County’s most valuable resource, its Associates, and doing so in a fiscally responsible way. He said a More Equitable Jackson County ensures that the County is drawing on the talents and diversity of its residents, its policies are inclusive and its programs are accessible to all, no matter what zip code residents call home.

Six months ago, with the unanimous support of the Legislature, Jackson County invested nearly $5 million to start the Our Healthy KC Eastside program. Under the leadership of Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton, Director of the UMKC Health Equity Institute, the program has exceeded its goal of vaccinating 5,000 people and providing immediate access to health care screenings, such as blood pressure checks, blood glucose, HIV/STD testing and mental health.

County Executive White’s three-year, $10 million proposal to extend Our Healthy KC Eastside will allow project partners to use the research they have gathered from residents and provide the resources needed to address persistent and deadly health disparities in our urban communities.

“My vision for this program is that it would go beyond COVID-19 outreach and vaccinations because we know that before the pandemic, chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease were disproportionally damaging our communities of color,” White said. “The work done by Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton and her amazing team of partners is empowering residents to take control of their well-being and now is not the time to stop helping our community become safer and healthier.”

“Jackson County’s renewed support of the Our Healthy Kansas City Eastside project reflects their leadership’s commitment to improving health outcomes and equity for its residents,” said Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton, OHKCE Lead Investigator. “We are encouraged by the high level of community collaboration, which resulted in the success of the project’s vaccination and health service events on the Eastside. The benefits of this effort extend well beyond each event. We look forward to expanding our efforts to improve health with our community partners. Many thanks to continued support from County Executive Frank White and the Jackson County Legislature.”

“We are pleased and excited that Jackson County is continuing to support UMKC in conjunction with the Our Healthy Kansas City Eastside project,” said UMKC Chancellor Dr. C. Mauli Agrawal. “Our success furthering education and distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations and critical health services, such as blood pressure and pre-diabetic screenings, benefit our community as a whole. UMKC is honored to be recognized as a key player in community health working to enhance the well-being of all Jackson County citizens.”

Click to Watch Our Healthy KC Eastside Video

2022 Recommended Budget

The County Executive’s State of the County outlined additional investments in his recommended 2022 budget to Build a Better, More Equitable Jackson County. They include:

  • Renovating a recently-purchased building to be home to the Jackson County Health Department, providing first-class amenities to continue our COVID-19 response and beyond
  • Implementing the third and final year of our compensation study, ensuring County staff make salaries at or above their peers in the market
    • Currently, every County staff members now makes at least $15/hour, a goal that is on budget and ahead of schedule
  • Expanding health benefits for county staff, offering for the first time comprehensive coverage for infertility treatments and gender affirming care
  • Upgrading the tax collection system to coincide with the 2022 launch of the new multi-million dollar assessment software
  • Acquiring state-of-the-art software making it easier for everyone, especially small businesses, including women and minority-owned business, to do business with the County

Memorable Moments

County Executive White’s virtual State of the County can be watched on Jackson County’s YouTube Channel: Here are some memorable moments:

  • 30 Girl Scouts from Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri lead-off the State of the County with the Pledge of Allegiance from Kauffman Stadium
  • County Executive White remembers COVID-19 victims, including three Jackson County staff members
  • Get an inside look at University Health’s response to the pandemic from President and CEO Charlie Shields
  • A 12-year-old girl shares an unforgettable experience visiting our parks for the first time through the Kids to the Parks program

The County Executive will submit his recommended 2022 budget on Monday, November 15 in accordance with the Jackson County Charter and Code.