The report documents the persistent problems experienced by communities of color attempting to access health care services across the nation. With a review of the latest research on health disparities, in-depth field research and comprehensive case studies, Closing the Gap reinvigorates the debate over what may be the nation's greatest public health challenge - the persistent racial divide in access to comprehensive, quality health services.
"The health care system as a whole provides vastly unequal access and treatment based on race, language, and ethnicity. Racism within the health system is literally making people of color sick," noted Will Pittz, organizer at the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations and lead author of the report. "The report's case studies articulate real solutions to the difficult problem of race-based health inequality. From an edible garden in Berkeley, to city-wide reform of the public health system in Washington, D.C., Closing the Gap highlights successes at the critical intersection of racial justice and health policy."
Closing the Gap describes the institutional and structural barriers that block access to quality care for people of color. Disputing the claims that racial disparities in health are based in biology or entirely attributable to socioeconomic status, "Closing the Gap" reveals that race and socioeconomic status together shape the obstacles individuals face as they seek quality health care.
This report is intended to make a real impact on policy discussions, the Applied Research Center's Communications Director Rinku Sen stated this morning, "Ultimately, racial and ethnic disparities in health cost hundreds of thousands of lives every year and prevent millions of others from enjoying a healthy life. Closing the Gap identifies best practices from around the nation that may serve as models for institutions, government agencies, and community-based organizations as they develop health-related programs. "
Closing the Gap was released today at the National Press Club. Its key recommendations include:
- Eliminating disparities in access to health insurance;
- Developing health care institutions that are welcoming and respectful to people of different races and ethnicities;
- Tracking racial disparities in health care provision;
- Providing medical interpretation services for all clinical encounters;
- And improving access to traditional and non-Western treatments.
Closing the Gap also features case studies gathered from across the nation:
- Building a System of Accessible, Welcoming, High Quality Care : The Southcentral Foundation, Anchorage, Alaska
- Providing Language Access for All : Bellevue Hospital, New York City
- Expanding Health Coverage : D.C. Healthy Families, Washington, D.C.Improving Diet and Exercise : Tohono O'odham Community Action, Sells, Arizona
- Improving School Nutrition : The Edible Schoolyard, Berkeley, CaliforniaAddressing Community Problems From a Health Perspective : St. Thomas Health Services, New Orleans, LA
The Applied Research Center is a public policy, research and training institute that focuses on race and social change. The Northwest Federation of Community Organizations (NWFCO) provides training, policy development and research support to grassroots organizations in Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho.
More on the report and a link to download a PDF copy here .