Adventist HealthCare Center for Health Equity & Wellness Conference Addresses Disparities in Infant Mortality - Adventist HealthCare

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Media Contact: Jenna Melton

Published on October 07, 2015

Adventist HealthCare Center for Health Equity & Wellness Conference Addresses Disparities in Infant Mortality

National Community Health Leaders Gather for Annual Conference

Gaithersburg, MD – Healthcare leaders from around the nation will gather at the Adventist HealthCare Center for Health Equity & Wellness’ 9th annual conference this week to examine and discuss approaches to address and reduce disparities in infant mortality rates. While infant mortality rates have fallen over time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wide disparities still exist among specific racial and ethnic groups.

“Adventist HealthCare’s mission is to improve the health of people and communities. The Center for Health Equity and Wellness is a vital way for us to carry our mission into the community through programs, partnerships and education,” said Terry Forde, president and CEO of Adventist HealthCare. “We are honored to bring together leaders from around the nation to address such an important health issue.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans have 2.2 times the infant mortality rate as non-Hispanic whites. Hispanic mothers are also twice as likely to receive late prenatal care -- or none at all -- compared to non-Hispanic white mothers. Locally, according to Healthy Montgomery, African Americans have an infant mortality rate that is more than double the rate for the overall population. In addition, Hispanic women are least likely to receive early prenatal care.

“During this year’s conference, we will examine disparities in infant mortality to build awareness among healthcare professionals,” said Marilyn Lynk, interim executive director of the Adventist HealthCare Center for Health Equity & Wellness. “Our distinguished speakers will explore how social determinants influence maternal and child health outcomes and will also discuss strategies to improve care for both mothers and infants.”

Presentations during the conference will include:

  • Keynote presentation by Dr. Gail C. Christopher, vice president for policy and senior advisor at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, on the social determinants of health and breastfeeding. Dr. Christopher is a nationally recognized leader in health policy and serves as the president of the board of the Trust for America’s Health.
  • Opening remarks by Dr. Michael Lu of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health and Resource Services Administration on federal priorities around improving maternal and child health outcomes.
  • Presentation by Dr. Jermane Bond, program director at the National Collaborative for Health Equity, on the critical role of fatherhood support in the child health continuum.
  • Panel presentation on health care across the maternal and child health continuum, from preconception to post-partum health. Panelists will include:
    • Anne Jordan, MS, Program Manager, Women’s Health, Kaiser Permanente
    • Michelle Gourdine, MD, Medical Director, LifeBridge Health
    • Jameta Barlow, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Gender and Womens Studies, Towson University
    • Maxine-Reed Vance, MS, Chief, Clinical Services and QI, Baltimore Healthy Start
    • H. Marcel Wright, MBA, Executive Director, The Lourie Center for Children’s Social & Emotional Wellness.

Established in 2007, the Adventist HealthCare Center for Health Equity & Wellness is recognized as a regional leader and resource for education and training programs committed to providing patient and family-centered care in a culturally sensitive way. The center seeks to understand and address the challenges that racial and ethnic minorities face in accessing quality healthcare and achieving healthy outcomes.

This year’s conference, titled “Before the Bough Breaks: Approaches to Reduce Disparities in Infant Mortality,” will take place October 8, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the College Park Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. Continuing education credits will be available for nurses, physicians and social workers.

To register or learn more, visit

Adventist HealthCare, the first and largest healthcare system in Montgomery County, offers a full range of health and wellness services to the community including acute hospital care, rehabilitation, mental and behavioral health services, home care, health education, a physician network and wellness services for businesses. Based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Adventist HealthCare is one of the largest employers in Maryland, with approximately 6,000 employees. Our mission is to demonstrate God’s care by improving the health of people and communities through a ministry of physical, mental and spiritual healing.

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