Race Summit Highlights Health Care Gaps

By: Andy Alcock Email
By: Andy Alcock Email

By: Andy Alcock
October 29, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - "As one might expect, the extremes of age have your highest infant mortality rate," said Doctor Tany Evers.

Doctor Evers discussed a significant problem in Leon County during the Mayor's Summit on Race, Culture and Human Relations.

At a health care forum, it was noted African Americans generally have less access to health care and worse outcomes than whites.

The gap is especially wide in infant mortality rates.

In Leon County, nearly 15 African American babies per 1000 die, compared to less than 4 whites.

"We're really trying to reinforce all the positive things that we know that will help our youngest people in Leon County get through that first year of life which is so critical," said Dr. Evers.

Education about pre-natal care, the importance of breast feeding and the care of newborns is part of that effort.

One area where education appears to be helping in Leon County is stroke prevention and treatment.

In the last several years, the racial gap has closed to nearly even.

"Just as the two hospitals become primary stroke centers, we've seen improvement in outcome," said Doctor Matt Lawson.

But Ruth Nickens of the Tallahassee Senior Center says black seniors at her center are less likely to seek preventive care than their white counterparts.

"Historically, I think there may have been a lack of trust in the system," said Nickens. "I think that's slowly dissolving," she said.

"There have been some good successes in different programs through barber shops, churches," said Doctor Wayne Batchelor.

A free event was held for the public called "I Talk to Strangers".
That event title is also a social movement with the mission of bringing the world together one conversation at a time.

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