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City reports on bid to address racial disparities in healthcare

More than 1,000 patients in Boston who previously did not have consistent medical care received services during the first year of the city's campaign to address racial and ethnic health disparities, according to a report released yesterday.

The patients, half of whom live in Dorchester and Roxbury, were screened for HIV and diabetes, as well as for breast, cervical, and prostate cancer, in some cases the first time patients had undergone screening examinations. The patients were then linked with health workers who helped manage their care and directed them to clinics and other providers of medical services.

In 2005, Mayor Thomas M. Menino declared healthcare disparities the city's most pressing medical issue, and the Boston Public Health Commission issued a blueprint to address the problem.

Grants were given to healthcare and community organizations and plans were drafted to educate hospitals, doctors and nurses, and patients.

During the first year of the initiative, more than 450 health professionals received training in how to provide care that was more culturally appropriate, lessons designed to make an increasingly diverse patient population feel more comfortable seeking medical treatment.

The report reviewing the first year's work, presented today at a conference, was prepared by Northeastern University.

"We know that we have a long way to go, but this is a start, and we will learn from the experience of the first-year projects, as we move forward with our efforts in Boston," Menino said in a statement.