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Mid-Atlantic Regional Health Equity Council Holds Health Disparities Community Dialogue at Norfolk S

Tuesday, January 3, 2017  
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Health disparities are defined as the “inequalities that occur in the provision of health care and access to health care across different racial, ethnic and socio-economic groups. Further it is population-specific differences in the presence of disease, health outcomes or to access health care. Health disparities happen more often than you would think – even in the 21st century. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Health Equity Council (RHEC), one of ten RHECs in the country, held a meeting at NSU to hear from the local community about issues facing their organizations when it comes to people receiving the kind of health care they need. Hosted by the NSU Center of Excellence in Minority Health Disparities, the gathering was designed as a listening session – an interactive session for attendees to participate in a spirited and timely discussion of the important health equity issues facing at-risk communities.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional RHEC was formed in 2011 to implement the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities (NPA). Its mission is to strengthen programs, policies, practices and services to achieve better health in the Region III, in coordination with state offices of minority health to address social determinants of health. In addition, the RHEC’s mission is to inform and strengthen programs, practices, polices and services that contribute to achieving better health for all within Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia by eliminating health disparities, addressing the determinants of health and stimulating communities to empower themselves. Dr. Cynthia Burwell, director of the NSU Health Disparities Center was appointed to the Mid-Atlantic Regional RHEC this fall.

About 60 people from church groups, public health departments, health care providers, social workers and non-profits attended the meeting. The RHEC committees and workgroups provided short presentations on their work that included reports on activities such as social media impact of the RHEC, Health Equity Day 2017, cultural competency efforts, the connection between HBCUs and the healthcare professions and more.

Breakout groups discussed four community dialogue questions including:

  1. What health equity priorities are your groups leading and how does it connect to the RHEC’s work or advance health disparities local and across the state?
  2. What roles do the future healthcare workforce play in the health disparities field?
  3. What are the differences in health disparities in rural, suburban and urban communities and what are the necessary strategies to address those disparities?
  4. What are the implications of the current political climate on health disparities work locally and nationally?
  5. Community healthcare advocates cited transportation accessibility, uncertainty with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the lack of a Medicaid expansion in Virginia, potential revenue being lost from other health disparities initiatives and misinformation about certain diseases and their treatments as issues impacting health equity priorities.

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