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News Release

Media Contact: Tom Grant

Published on November 27, 2007

News Release

Report Urges Collaboration in Eliminating Health Disparities in the Suburban Maryland Region

Adventist HealthCare Center on Health Disparities to host November 30 luncheon with leaders from counties, state

A collaborative effort among health organizations, community groups and government agencies is needed to eliminate cultural barriers to health care in Montgomery,Prince George’s and Frederick counties, according to a new report by the Adventist HealthCare Center on Health Disparities.

This inaugural report, “Partnering Toward a Healthier Future,” says that without partnerships among health-care providers, community advocates and policymakers in the three counties, the existing health disparities affecting underserved communities will only grow more pronounced.

“Each county has resources and programs we could be using and learning from as we all address this growing need,” says Marcos Pesquera, Executive Director of the Center on Health Disparities. “This report is the first step in focusing our efforts and refining our agenda as we work to minimize gaps in health-care services in this region.”

The report is unique in that it focuses on the local community level within the suburban Maryland region of Washington, D.C.

“The need for solid data at a county level is imperative if we are to effect change and focus our efforts in areas that are relevant to our local community,” Pesquera says. “Our hope is that the findings in this report will serve as a catalyst for all of us to target interventions in the areas of greatest need.”

The report will be the focus of a roundtable luncheon featuring health officials from all three counties and the state on Friday, November 30 at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park.

It finds that the proportion of African-American, Latino and Asian-American residents in the tri-county area is growing and impacting the health of the community. This population growth calls for more activity aimed at understanding the health concerns of these groups and for determining how the local health system can better serve their needs.

The report details demographic trends, cultural influences on health, analyses of health disparities across a range of health issues, and provides brief descriptions of local community organizations working to reduce health disparities.

As a result of a series of meetings with these organizations, as well as representatives from other government and non-government agencies, the Adventist HealthCare Center on Health Disparities has prepared this report as an overview of issues impacting the underserved. Among the report’s findings:

  • Latino patients are at risk of lower quality care than non-whites when a language barrier exists between the patient and the provider.
  • Comparable to national trends, African Americans have higher mortality rates due to stroke in Frederick County, Prince George’s County, and across Maryland.
  • Asian American women in Maryland have the highest rates of mortality from cervical cancer compared to other groups of women.
  • In Maryland , non-elderly Latinos are most likely to be uninsured.
  • In the tri-county area, the infant mortality rate for African Americans is more than two times as high as whites in Montgomery and Prince George ’s Counties.
  • In 2005, 68 percent of Maryland medical school graduates were white. Asian Americans comprised 23 percent of graduates, while African Americans and Latinos made up only 5 and 3 per­cent respectively.

“There are deep and too often overlooked holes in our health-care fabric,” said William G. “Bill” Robertson, President and CEO of Adventist HealthCare. “All of us need to understand the wealth of diversity that exists in our communities, the different health beliefs and health-seeking behaviors practiced, and how trust is built between patients and medical providers.”

The Center’s report goes on to say that whether the gap comes from lack of access to care, limited adoption of healthy behaviors, limited English proficiency, or complexity of patient-provider relationships, the tri-county area needs to expand programs and services that will aid in the elimination of health disparities. The report recommends:

  • Expanding outreach and services for racial and ethnic minorities, with a special emphasis placed on utilizing existing successful programs and understanding how to replicate them.
  • Coordinating research to develop a more systematic collection of racial and ethnic data, as well as language preference, in order to better evaluate and identify specific needs.
  • Promoting culturally and linguistically competent care and providing funding mechanisms to increase the exchange of best practices.

In September 2005, the Board of Trustees of Adventist HealthCare approved a Vision for Expanded Access. One key element of the Vision was a call to convene a Blue Ribbon Panel of community leaders to develop a locally-driven approach that addresses and eliminates health disparities in all the communities served by Adventist HealthCare.

In 2007, the Center on Health Disparities began its work with a focus on three areas: training & education, research, and health-care delivery.

The roundtable discussion will take place on November 30, from 12:30-2 p.m. at Washington Adventist Hospital’s Conference Center, 7600 Carroll Ave. in Takoma Park, Maryland . Copies of the report will be available at the discussion. For a copy in advance, either visit the Web site or call 301-315-3356.

Participants will include:


Barbara A. Brookmyer, MD, MPH
Frederick County Health Officer
Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, RN, BSN, MAS
Chair, Maryland  House of Delegates Minority Health Disparities Subcommittee
Robert Gold, PhD, DrPH, FAAHB
Dean, School of Public Health at the University of Maryland
Donald Shell, MD, MA
Prince George’s County Health Officer
Carlessia Hussein, RN, DrPH
Director, Office of Minority Health & Health Disparities, State of Maryland
Ulder Tillman , MD , MPH
Montgomery County Health Officer


Adventist HealthCare, an integrated health care delivery organization based in Rockville, Maryland, is one of the largest employers in the state of Maryland.  The mission of Adventist HealthCare is to demonstrate God’s care by improving the health of people and communities through a ministry of physical, mental and spiritual healing. Adventist HealthCare includes Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Washington Adventist Hospital, Potomac Ridge Behavioral Health, Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland, Adventist Senior Living Services, Hackettstown Regional Medical Center, Adventist Home Health Services, the Reginald S. Lourie Center for Children and Infants and LifeWork Strategies.

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