National Health Disparities Conference Day Two Highlights: May 5th, 2017

Written by Teryn Pannette, Lauryn Ormrod, Madeline Heim and Savannah Wilkinson

Day 2 at the conference involved many panels, honorable public health professionals, and words from wise keynote speakers. We got to experience listening to what professional public health workers face every day and how they handle their daily work.

The day started with a congressional roundtable. This roundtable was full of 5 congressional and star officials ranging from US House of Representatives to district representatives. The purpose of the roundtable was to explain how the government (state and federal level) plays a role in reducing the health disparities that everyone is facing in all populations. Reducing disparities needs all levels and all areas hands on, working together to tackle each and every one that is affecting our population as a whole and as individuals.

After the congressional roundtable, we had the first panel of the day. This panel was a part 2 of one that we got to witness on day 1: building healthy communities. Today this panel looked at community based programs that work. This panel consisted of different organizations and company representatives. We got to hear from AmeriHealth, a representative from the Office of Behavioral Health with the Louisiana department of health, as well as a nonprofit organization working with children and their access to healthcare, and a Professor from Dillard who spoke on VA and their access to healthcare. This panel showed us different tactics that each organization is currently using in order to tackle health disparities and what the keynotes are for them to work.

AmeriHealth focuses on partnering with providers and community-based organizations in order to have a successful health program and make an impact on the community. Ms. Karen Dale, there representative, also made the great point to remember that each person is at a different point and we must start with each individual at that point to be the most effective. The department of health made the great point to make an effort to get involved and to bring attention to the issues we are facing in order to tackle them head on.

As for the other two speakers, children and access to health care focuses on closing the gap but keeping the resources there for the growing needs. Serving over 1500 children this year alone, they focus on all children’s potential and how all children need access. The last speaker focused on the veterans and their access to healthcare. The need to know their specifics and treat them as a human and not just a member of the military is key to success and to their health. Many veterans return with moral injury, which is the difficult time they face when trying to accept what they have done while deployed and who they have become, which can deeply affect their mental health and ability to communicate their needs. Overall this panel was very educational and brought us great tools for future community based programs.

After the first panel of the day, we had the luncheon and keynote speaker. The keynote speaker was the one and only Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, the president and dean of Morehouse School of Medicine. The main point of her presentation was to show how poverty impacts the lives of children and individuals immensely. She stated, “Hungry kids cannot learn”. This statement was powerful and eye opening. It shows that poverty affects all aspects of life and truly is a disparity that too many face. Her speech revealed the different perspectives around the world and how your view and experiences can affect all aspects of your life. She gave many examples of how reading levels are affected in children and how the amount of students going on to college education level and finishing college drop significantly based on your demographics.

The rest of the day consisted of more panels on the topics of translational research and public policy, as well as police and community relations. All panels thus far have brought great knowledge and resources to all attendees of the conference. We look forward to day 3 and areĀ grateful for the opportunity this conference has provided us!

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