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Media Contact: Tom Grant
tgrant@adventisthealthcare.com
301-315-3356

Published on September 28, 2009

Adventist HealthCare's Director of Center on Health Disparities Testifies at Congressional Briefing about Local Outreach

Rockville, Md. - Marcos Pesquera, Director of the Center on Health Disparities for Adventist HealthCare, told a Congressional briefing this month that addressing health disparities at the local level contributes greatly toward improving health equity in certain populations.

Marcos Pesquera, MPH, Director, Center on Health Disparities at Adventist HealthCare. Photo courtesy of Nowitz Photography. "While health and health-care disparities are an issue of national concern, it is at the local level with each area doing their part, that we will be able to achieve health equity," Pesquera said. "National numbers are helpful in identifying issues; however, local data is what is going to inform our agenda."

Pesquera gave his remarks as a panelist at the briefing, "Cost-Savings of Reducing Health Disparities in Health Reform," at the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

The briefing, organized by a National Working Group on Health Disparities and Health Reform led by the American Psychological Association (APA), highlighted the costs associated with health-care inequalities among certain populations in the United States. Panelists addressed the issue from a national to a regional to a local level. The standing-room only audience of more than 150 people included Congressional staff, representatives from the American Hospital Association, advocates from numerous health coalitions, as well as academic experts in the field of health disparities.

At the local level, Pesquera cited the crucial need for linguistic services in Montgomery County, Md., where nearly 30 percent of the county residents are foreign born and 35 percent of households speak a language other than English at home. These telling statistics were the basis for the Qualified Bilingual Staff program currently in place at Adventist HealthCare hospitals that strengthens the patient-provider relationship.

"Adventist HealthCare adopted a program to train and certify bilingual staff in proper interpreting skills in a medical encounter because not everyone who is bilingual is equipped to interpret in a medical encounter," Pesquera said. "This program has been effective in improving our capacity and ability to communicate with our limited English proficient patients."

In September 2005, Adventist HealthCare Board of Trustees approved a Vision for Expanded Access, which included convening 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. This led to the creation of the Adventist HealthCare Center on Health Disparities in 2007.

In addition to training Adventist HealthCare medical staff and employees, Pesquera has worked with Montgomery County Government employees and medical staff at hospitals around Maryland.

"I really believe the Center on Health Disparities is a success story for what we are trying to accomplish" in reducing health disparities and thus, health-care costs, on a national level, said Daniel Dawes, Chair of the National Working Group on Health Disparities and Health Reform.

Additional panelists at the briefing included:

  • Norman Anderson, Ph.D., CEO, American Psychological Association
  • Tom Bornemann, Ed. D., Director, The Carter Center Mental Health Program
  • Carolyn Clancy, M.D., Director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Kavita Patel, M.D., White House Director of Policy
  • Brian Smedley, Ph.D., Vice President and Director, Health Policy Institute at the Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies
  • Len Nichols, Ph.D, health care economist and director of New America Foundation
  • Timothy Waidmann, Ph.D., senior research associate, The Urban Institute

For more information about the Center on Disparities at Adventist HealthCare, visit www.adventisthealthcare.com/health-disparities or call 301-315-3677.

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, 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.

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