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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Monday, March 12, 2007

1,000 get treatment in health disparities project

By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff

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 today.

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 exams. 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, Boston 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 a range of healthcare and community organizations and plans 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. (See, also the 2-page executive summary)

“We know that we have a long way to go," Menino said in a statement, "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."

Posted by Karen Weintraub at 11:15 AM
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