July 09, 2020
County Board Chair Analiese Eicher, 608.571.6823
County Board

The County Board meeting this evening, Thursday, July 9th, at 7:00 pm will include a resolution recognizing racism as a public health crisis. 


The resolution recognizes that race is a social construct and institutional and structural bias have resulted in racial inequities that affect individual and population health, social, economic, and educational outcomes. 


“We continue to work to improve our policies, procedures, and processes, and to use a racial equity and social justice lens when doing so, but we have just started.  We have so much more work to do to break down the institutional structural racism that negatively affects so many people in our community,” said County Board Supervisor Shelia Stubbs (District 23).


A growing body of research shows that racism is a social determinant of health.  In Wisconsin, the highest death rates exist for African Americans and Native Americans, at every stage in the life course, and the infant mortality rate for infants of non-Hispanic black women is the highest in the nation.


Public Health Madison and Dane County focuses their work on health equity and the root causes of poor health outcomes by addressing the social and economic forces that affect the health of our community.  Several Public Health Madison and Dane County initiatives specifically address the impact of race on health outcomes including:


  • Breastfeeding Community Collaborations Team Increased breastfeeding and pumping access across county through lactation room micro grants, directly funded and partnered with three organizations of color around racial inequities in breastfeeding. Together they advocated around the need for increased doula funding and the need for the Certified Lactation Consultant training course to become more culturally responsive. 

  • Fetal and Infant Mortality Review leadership is a partner in the Dane County Health Council and their work with reducing Black infant mortality, including partnering with the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness

  • Licensed establishments created a sliding scale for inspection fees so that small businesses would be less burdened by fees.

  • Food security experts worked with the Park St community to preserve food security on Park St when Pick n’ Save was going to close (the closure would have had a disproportionate impact on families of color)

  • Violence prevention was part of Community Safety Intervention Team, which responds to violent incidents and works to prevent violence and retaliation. They were also part of efforts to address disproportionate minority contact in the criminal justice system

  • Sexual and Reproductive Health hired a bilingual Disease Intervention Specialist to better serve Spanish-speaking folks in our community. They also created more trans-inclusive forms for use in the clinic.

  • Nurse Family Partnership and Prenatal Care Coordination worked on quality improvement around safe sleep services, and shifted messaging to be focused on risk reduction and away from implying any blame or shame. Black babies are more likely to die before age 1 than white babies in Dane County. Also created the first NFP Community Advisory Board in the country comprised of former and current NFP participants. 

  • Developed of a Persons of Color (POC) affinity group that is being facilitated by YWCA Madison in an effort to create a safe environment for PHMDC staff


“The Board will continue to do the hard work to implement equitable, anti-racist policies and both lead and support the health and equity work of others in the community, including our Public Health Department,” said County Board Chair Analiese Eicher (District 3). 


The Wisconsin Public Health Association passed a resolution declaring that racism is a public health crisis in Wisconsin and is committed to taking action.  Several other units of local governments, non-profits, and community organizations have already signed on.  If the County Board approves the resolution, Dane County will also sign on declaring racism as a public health crisis.


The agenda for the Board meeting is available here, along with information for members of the public to connect and register to speak at the meeting.