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St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center

Advancing Excellence

Nov 18 2013
Understanding Health Disparities

This week we reviewed with our Board of Trustees our plans for submitting our community service plan and preparing for our community benefit report. The data we reviewed about the disparities in health status in our community was startling. What are health disparities?

HRSA defines health disparities as population specific differences in the presence of disease, health outcomes, and access to health care. It led me to reviewing the national dialogue on this subject, the research  and action to close these gaps among best practice organizations:

There are many more, but browse a few home pages and you will clearly understand. In this country, groups including African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos, have higher incidents of chronic disease, higher mortality  and poorer health outcomes.

Cancer among many African American groups is 10 percent higher than other groups. These groups have two times the likelihood of diabetes and other chronic conditions in inner city areas. The city of Syracuse is no different.

We have to translate this knowledge into action around expanding access to primary care, but also improving our communities. We have said it before, good schools, adequate housing, jobs, a clean environment, and yes, access to health care all are part of the equation.

Our main focus has been on expanding access in the city on the West side and the North side through our primary care clinic and mental health centers. Our community service plan reflects these actions.

Now we need a dialogue with our community on what works and what isn't working. Our efforts will extend to creating a task force of leaders and community partners to advise us.

Our future focus must include progress on closing the gaps in these disparities. 


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