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Metro Newsroom 

Director Selected for National Leadership Program to Eliminate Disparities

Wednesday June 1, 2011

Ryan Irvine, deputy director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness has been selected to participate in a year-long executive leadership program designed to tackle racial and ethnic disparities in health care.

Irvine is one of only 34 individuals from 16 health care organizations throughout the United States to be selected for the Disparities Leadership Program 2011-2012.

“We are proud that Ryan Irvine has been selected to join this select group of leaders from around the country,” said Dr. Matt Zahn, acting director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. “As the first city or county health department in America to establish a center for health equity, overcoming health disparities is central to the mission of the Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. The practical strategies that Ryan will learn and help to develop will assist us in our quest to bring about health equity here in Louisville.”

The Disparities Leadership Program is the first program of its kind in the nation. It is designed for leaders from hospitals, health insurance plans, health departments and other health care organizations who are seeking to develop practical strategies to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care. The program is led by the Disparities Solutions Center at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, Massachusetts.

The goal of the Disparities Leadership Program is to create a cadre of health care leaders who have:

  • In-depth knowledge of the research and causes of health care disparities;
  • Cutting-edge, quality improvement strategies and skills to address disparities; and
  • Leadership skills to implement solutions to help transform their organizations.

“This program is about developing new leaders and taking action. It is about helping individuals and their health care organizations understand the critical connection between improving quality and eliminating disparities in care through a concerted, coordinated effort to change our health care system,” said Joseph R. Betancourt, MD, MPH, Director of the Disparities Solutions Center at MGH, and a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee, which produced the 2002 landmark report Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. This report revealed striking disparities in the quality of health care services delivered to minority and white patients -- even for patients of the same socioeconomic background and access to care.

Created in July 2005 as the nation’s first hospital-based disparities center, the Disparities Solutions Center at MGH has significant experience in addressing racial and ethnic disparities in care. The Center has worked with several leading health plans across the country (Aetna, Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Florida, among others) to develop strategies to identify and eliminate disparities.



Ryan Irvine