Report on Healthcare Disparities Symposium

Resident member Katrin S Sadigh, MD, a PGY2 resident in the Yale Internal Medicine Primary Care Program, attended the recent “Symposium: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Readmission Rates” and submitted the following report:

The Symposium on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Readmission Rates took place on 4 February 2015, sponsored by the Connecticut State Medical Society (CSMS) and Connecticut Health Foundation. Hospital administrators, patient advocacy groups, social service administrators and leaders, policy makers, mental health clinicians, physicians, nurses, and students convened from all over the state. Research conducted by CSMS was presented on significant disparities in readmission rates of Black and Latino patients in the areas of uncomplicated delivery, joint replacement surgery, heart failure/chest pain and digestive disorders with the hope of initiating a discussion of ways to address these disparities. The day’s events included a guest appearance by Robert Wah, MD, President of the American Medical Association (AMA), who described ways in which minorities are disproportionately affected by hypertension and diabetes mellitus. He offered the example of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball and who contributed profoundly to the Civil Rights Movement, but ultimately died at the age of 54 from complications of diabetes. Dr. Wah also outlined several key initiatives to combat racial disparity, including joining ranks with YMCAs and implementing Doctors Back to School, which places doctors in classrooms with sixth through eighth graders to expose the young to “real life” doctors, and to fill in the gap in cultural training. Other speakers included M. Natalie Achong, MD, Chair of CSMS Health Equity Committee, who outlined the disparities spectrum from cardiovascular disease to diabetes to HIV/AIDS, and Robert Aseltine, Jr., PhD, who presented data from the analysis of disparities in hospital readmission. Lawrence Sanders, Jr., MD, President of the National Medical Association (NMA), passionately combined personal and historical narrative, from Harry Truman and the desegregation of armed services in 1948 via executive order to President Obama’s second State of the Union address, to advocate for continued combined efforts towards health care equity and fairness. Towards the end of the day, participants broke out into smaller groups for more targeted discussion of ways to address disparities in readmission in the four specific areas of medicine as outlined above. Post symposium, attendees will receive a summary of these brainstorming sessions with the hope that they may add additional comments and contribute to solution development.

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