Civic Leaders Examine Causes of Disparity in Health of Ethnic and Minority Communities

Sixth National Community Care Network Conference

The Health Research and Educational Trust, Chicago, convened the Sixth National Community Care Network Conference, "Beyond the Barriers: Building Innovative Networks of Care," November 2–4, 2000, in Denver.

The conference created a forum for exchange among leaders and advocates committed to studying and building community capacity for addressing health challenges and initiating health system change. In order to address the root causes of persistent health challenges, communities must mobilize resources to address access, quality of care and other social determinants of health.

Key Results

  • More than 400 participants attended the conference, which provided information to community leaders to enhance their abilities to assess their community's health, mobilize the assets of the community, strengthen and sustain partnerships and affect local, state, and federal policy on the health challenges they face.

    The conference included four, 90-minute sessions addressing access to care, a workshop designed to help community activists learn how public policy is formed and a keynote panel on disparity in health status.

    Three keynote sessions explored a common theme of the need for political action and change; widespread recognition that health is broader than medical care; and devoting resources to social and economic justice:
    • "The Social Health of the Nation," by Marc Miringoff, Fordham Institute for Innovation in Social Policy (Tarrytown, N.Y.), discussed the need for a social index of how the nation is doing in comparison with familiar economic indicators and indices.
    • The keynote panel session, "Reducing Disparity in Health Status," focused on the economic, social, cultural and institutional barriers that create dramatic differences in health between racial, ethnic, gender and age groups. Rupert Evans, Institute for Diversity in Health Management, Chicago, chaired the panel with representatives from the African-American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American communities.
    • "The Future of Mental Health," presented by Wendy Everett, Institute for the Future, Menlo Park, Calif., explored how changing demographics and emerging technologies will affect health care and mental health care over the next decades.

      The conference also featured a three-hour presentation on Real Clout training, facilitated by representatives of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) Access Project (ID#s 030634, 031275, 042407). This program helps communities protect and/or improve access to care for the uninsured and other underserved populations.

In a report to RWJF, the project director recommended changing the content and format, as this was the sixth annual meeting using the current design. One suggestion was to focus content on a few topics rather than trying to cover a broad spectrum of related issues.

Another recommendation was to lower the registration fee, given the restrictive budgets of much of the target audience.

Audiotapes of the conference are available online from the American Hospital Association. (See the Bibliography for details.)


RWJF supported the project with a grant of $50,000 between September and November 2000.

The grant was used primarily to provide scholarships for 10 community leaders who would otherwise not have been able to attend. They represented a broad geographic spectrum from organizations representative of the community-based, public-private partnerships for which the conference was held.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation ($30,000), the Rose Foundation ($2,500), and the National Library of Medicine ($1,000) also supported the conference.

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