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Solving Health Disparities

Health disparities are defined as significant differences between one population and another in the overall rate of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, mortality or survival rates. These populations may be defined socioeconomically (poverty, homelessness), by race and ethnicity (minorities), by age (elderly, children), by sexual orientation or gender identity, by origin (birth, immigrant, refugee), by cultural attributes (beliefs, practices, spirituality, religion, values), both real and perceived, and/or by labels (mentally ill, drug user/ abuser/addict, etc.) “assigned” to some health conditions.

Since opening in February 2012, the Summa Health Equity Center has been focused on reaching the goal of “eliminating health disparities in our communities” by providing primary care services, providing community health education and prevention initiatives which empower people to take an active role in their health through community programming, and identifying public health solutions through research, education and community partnerships.

The Summa Health Equity Center has played a significant role in caring for refugee populations in our community. Through 2014, the Center has provided over 20,000 primary care interactions with all patients, and more than 11,000 learning opportunities and interactions through community outreach and programming for all participants. Early data shows that delivering care through this model can lead to desired short term outcomes – lowered blood pressure, improved measures related to diabetes, fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations, for example – and that continued efforts in this arena are warranted.


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