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News Release

Media Contact: Tom Grant

Published on November 16, 2009

Health Care Providers, Officials Discuss Eliminating Health Disparities in Region

Adventist HealthCare's Center on Health Disparities Leads Effort to Increase Access to Health Care Through Specialized Training for Health Care Workers

College Park, Md. - Approximately 250 health-care, government and community leaders from the DC/Baltimore region attended the annual Adventist HealthCare Center on Health Disparities Conference today to discuss possible solutions to eliminating access problems and language barriers to health care, all part of Adventist HealthCare's commitment to ensuring that minority and underserved populations receive high-quality care.

This year's report, "Partnering Toward a Healthier Future," focuses on progress that Washington Adventist Hospital, Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, the Center on Health Disparities and its community partners have achieved in reducing health-care disparities through research, innovative training, partnerships, local outreach and services.

In 2007, the Center on Health Disparities, a key element of Adventist HealthCare's Vision for Expanded Access, began its work with a focus on three areas: training & education, research, and health-care delivery.

Since then, the Center has trained more than 5,500 Adventist HealthCare employees and 580 community health partners ranging from Sinai Hospital of Baltimore and Johns Hopkins Priority Partners to county health leaders and community health organizations. The training, in the classroom and online, instructs health providers how to deliver and communicate care in a way that is sensitive to a patient's cultural beliefs and preferred language in order to treat disease, improve health outcomes and achieve and maintain wellness.

"Good health care is built on strong trust and communication," said Marcos Pesquera, Executive Director of the Center on Health Disparities. "Our efforts to improve cultural competence of care strengthen the relationship between the patient and health-care provider and the overall health outcome for the patient."

In addition, Adventist HealthCare's Center on Health Disparities also has trained bilingual staff in its hospitals in proper medical interpretation to help eliminate language barriers and ensure patients with limited English-language proficiency have a full understanding of important health-care decisions.

To date, the Center has trained 232 staff members in 10 languages, including:

  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • Cantonese
  • Farsi
  • French
  • Korean
  • Mandarin
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese


The report also highlights collaboration in the area of disease prevention and wellness. Barriers to screening and care for racial and ethnic minorities can translate to postponed diagnoses and treatments. Both the Center and Adventist HealthCare's Health and Wellness outreach program work closely with its hospitals and its community partners, such as Mobile Med and the Montgomery County Maternity Partnership, to ensure underserved patients receive necessary screening and treatment, especially in the areas of cancer care, cardiovascular care and maternal and child health.

"Although national statistics have put a spotlight on health disparities especially among the uninsured and underserved, in 2005 we set out to lead change at the local level," said William G. "Bill" Robertson, President and CEO of Adventist HealthCare. "As we work towards understanding our local community's challenges and yielding a deeper impact from our outreach efforts, we move closer to expanding access to care for all in our communities."

Going forward, the Center will continue educating Adventist HealthCare's workforce and community partners to ensure its training and community outreach programs have widespread benefit for minority and underserved populations in the region.

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, Adventist Behavioral Health Services, Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland, Adventist Senior Living Services, Hackettstown Regional Medical Center, Adventist Home Health Services, the Reginald S. Lourie Center for Infants and Young Children, and LifeWork Strategies.

Adventist HealthCare's Center on Health Disparities was started in 2007 to provide quality care to everyone by bridging the health-care access gap in our communities. The Center is a recognized expert in addressing health-care disparities and building health-care equity. Among its partners are the Brookings Institution, Johns Hopkins Priority Partners, US Department of Health & Human Services, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, University of Maryland, School of Public Health, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties Departments of Health and Human Services and Montgomery Cares Clinics.

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