BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — On Friday morning, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz signed the Erie County Health Equity Act of 2021, creating the Office of Health Equity.

The new office is part of the Erie County Department of Health.

Led by Kelly Wofford, the office will advocate for equal access to preventive health care for minority and disadvantaged residents in Erie County. Along with that, the office will seek ways to prevent diseases and conditions that are prevalent among minority and disadvantaged populations.

“This office will be proactive and engaged countywide, identifying and addressing health issues that have existed for too long while promoting better public health for us all,” Poloncarz says.

Erie County says the office will also work to provide people with access to health care education and preventive care resources.

“Our County has faced its health challenges, from lead poisoning in our old housing stock to the recent cancer cluster on the East Side, we know that people of color and members of other minority communities have been denied access to fair and equitable healthcare,” Erie County Legislature Chair April Baskin says. “COVID-19 exposed many of the inherent flaws in our healthcare system and greatly exacerbated the existing disparities between race, income, and gender in our society. The Erie County Division of Health Equity Act will address those disparities by creating an office whose sole responsibility will be to ensure Erie County’s health programs and policies address inequities and are executed in an equitable manner.”

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.