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Mayor Opens Center for Health Equity

Thursday June 29, 2006

Center Located in Historic Hampton HouseThe Center for Health Equity - Louisville Health Department

Mayor Jerry Abramson and Louisville Metro Health Department Director Dr. Adewale Troutman today officially opened the Center for Health Equity. The center was created by Abramson to eliminate health inequities based on race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. The Center for Health Equity is located in the historic Hampton House, 2422 West Chestnut Street.

“We want to make sure all citizens in Louisville have access to quality healthcare - no matter their race, culture or income level,” Abramson said. “It’s our goal to prevent diabetes, heart disease, lung cancer and obesity by reaching out to residents who are disproportionately affected by these diseases.”

As in other cities throughout the United States, minority populations in Louisville have higher rates of death from such chronic conditions as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.  Infant mortality rates are also considerably higher among minority communities.

Heart disease death rates were 29 percent higher in 2001 for black residents of Louisville than they were for white residents. The percentage of diabetes in 2000 was 63 percent higher for black residents.  The overall mortality rate in Louisville in 2001 was 28 percent higher for black residents than for white residents.

Latinos and members of other immigrant populations will also be served by the center. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that Latinos are twice as likely to die from diabetes.

“The Center for Health Equity in Louisville is the only center of its kind located within a city or county health department,” said Pat Libby, the executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. "Louisville and this center will be a model for the rest of the nation." 

The Center will seek to set up best practice models that can be replicated in other communities across the country.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) national planning document, Healthy People 2010, puts forward the elimination health disparities as a national goal. 

One of the center’s first projects is the Tommie Smith Track Meet that will take place at the University of Louisville on Saturday, August 12, 2006.  The track meet is open to elementary and middle-school aged children throughout the community.   Working with the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Movement, the Center will also organize 10-15 Tommie Smith track clubs in Louisville.  The Louisville clubs will be geared toward young people of color and will include instruction on nutrition and personal hygiene, as well as fitness assessments by the Health Promotion Schools of Excellence.

The Center for Health Equity also expects to collaborate with the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences and the Morehouse School of Medicine to conduct community-based participatory research aimed at identifying and quantifying health disparities. The Louisville Metro Health Department will design and implement evidence-based, data-driven interventions to improve the health and the lives of those in our community who suffer from health inequities. 

“The Center for Health Equity will benefit the entire Louisville community,” Dr. Troutman said.  “Bringing about equality in health in our city does not mean lowering the health status of the majority population, but raising the health status of minority populations.  We will all win in the long run as our city becomes a healthier, safer and more livable place.”

The Center for Health Equity will have an eleven member staff - a director, a coordinator, two support personnel, 3 health education specialists, a nutritionist, a chronic disease specialist and two supervisors.

Lauri Andress, who was recruited after a national search, will serve as the director of the Center for Health Equity. Andress holds a law degree from the South Texas School of Law and a Masters of Public Health degree from the University of Texas. She is currently working on a PhD in Public Health Policy and Management from the University of Texas School of Public Health.

“I am thrilled to be coming to Louisville,” Andress said. “I am anxious to utilize my public health experience and education to make a positive impact on the health of minority and lower-income people in this community.”

 The mission of the Louisville Metro Health Department is to protect, preserve and promote the health, environment and well-being of the people of Louisville. To learn more about the Health Department’s programs and services go to www.louisvilleky.gov/health.