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Addressing Health Care Disparities
LaVerne Wiley, R.N., Associate Midwest Cluster Director, Ohio Primary Care Association, Columbus, OH.
Carolyn Jenkins, Dr.P.H., Associate Professor, College of Nursing, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC.
Since all health care is delivered locally, any successful strategy to address health care disparities must involve change at the local provider and delivery system level. Community understanding and involvement also is a critically important factor in addressing these disparities.
Several Federally-supported, community-focused initiatives offer promising models for addressing the problem:
- The Federal Health Resources and Services Administration's Health Disparities Collaborative provides support to a number of projects involving community health centers and other community-based organizations that are focused on improving health care quality and the health status of predominantly minority populations.
According to LaVerne Wiley, the MidWest Cluster Director for the Collaborative, preliminary findings from one of these projects indicate that it has not only improved the quality of care for patients with diabetes, but it also appears to have reduced hospitalizations and shortened inpatient stays. These preliminary results also indicate a reduction in the annual cost to care for these patients.
- The Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH 2010) initiative also supports a number of community-based projects designed to eliminate health care disparities and improve outcomes for a variety of diseases among racial and ethnic minorities.
Carolyn Jenkins from the Medical University of South Carolina presented the results of one such project in South Carolina, showing a significant improvement in the care and outcomes for the predominantly African American population served.