LETTER FROM THE LEADERSHIP
At UC Davis Health System, we are dedicated to advancing the health of our community. Access to quality, compassionate medical services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate is central to our vision of reducing health disparities among the patients we serve.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an important summary of the progress toward achieving our national goal of reducing health-care disparities. The HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's report emphasized that major disparities in health outcomes persist for many groups, based on race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, geography, socioeconomic status and other factors. The HHS report pointed to progress is different segments of our population, but much more work remains to be done.
Although many health disparities are being reduced, the HHS report identified a critical exception that disturbs me greatly. Disparities among Hispanics have worsened since the agency's last report three years ago. For instance, one measurement found that the quality of diabetes care declined for Hispanic adults, even as it improved for white, non-Hispanic adults. Another showed that patient-provider communication declined among Hispanic adults, despite improvements for other groups.
It is particularly worrisome to see this national trend since California is home to the largest Hispanic population in the country. It tells me that despite all the work we have done to address disparities, we still have a ways to go – especially in our own state where we can, and should, make a significant impact on altering that unacceptable trend. Fortunately, UC Davis Health System's position as the region's only academic medical center allows us to draw upon our highly collaborative culture, a multidisciplinary team approach and the use of advanced technology to uniquely address disparity from a wide variety of perspectives.
To that end, we have launched a new Center for Reducing Health Disparities here at UC Davis that will employ community-academic collaborations to stimulate research and develop new understandings of disparities in health care and outcomes for urban and rural, racial and ethnic minority, and other underserved populations.
Leading the new center is Dr. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, who recently was honored with a national community leadership award for his efforts to improve the health of Latinos. We are delighted to have him as part of our team and look forward to the collaborations and partnerships he will forge on behalf of the health system.
We are proud of our leadership role in addressing the health disparities that are often deep-rooted in the populations we serve. I believe our efforts are making an impact. In this issue of UC Davis Medicine, you will read about several programs that are helping to reduce health disparities among specific groups. Please take time to read about our work and tell us what you think by e-mailing us at UCDavisMedicine@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu.