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Racial and Ethnic Disparities

December 15, 2008

Why Health Care Disparities?

Over the last decade, highlighted by the release of the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) Report "Unequal Treatment" in 2002, the issue of racial and ethnic disparities in health care in the United States has attracted significant attention. Such disparities have been well documented; even with the same insurance and income, minorities often receive a lower quality of health care than do their white counterparts.


Roderick K. King, MD, MPH
Dr. Roderick K. King is currently Senior Faculty, Disparities Solutions Center of Massachusetts General Hospital and faculty in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. His academic work/teaching and key consulting roles focus on leadership and organizational development in community based organizations, public health, health workforce planning, diversity and cultural competence, and evaluation and program impact assessment that address the social determinants of health disparities. Dr. King also teaches the course "Leadership in Minority Health Policy" at Harvard Medical School.

Prior to joining The Disparities Solutions Center, Dr. King was the New England Regional Director for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and was Commander in the U.S. Public Health Service. At HRSA he was responsible for the overall management of $190M in grants and the supervision of staff and activities in Primary Care, Maternal and Child Health, HIV/AIDS, and the Bureau of Health Professions by improving their individual and collective performance within their local community and state to meet the needs of underserved populations.

In 1995, he received the Teachers for Africa Award and served as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, West Africa providing public health instruction to those providing care to populations in rural areas.

Dr. King's rich experiences with diverse and underserved communities in the United States and abroad affords him the unique ability to create and implement strategies that lead change in health/health care, public health, and health policy.

Rochelle Ayala, MD
Rochelle Knowles Ayala, MD, FACP, is the Administrator and Chief Medical Officer for Primary Care Services at Memorial Regional Hospital, Hollywood, Florida. There she directs the delivery of comprehensive and coordinated health care to over 21,000 uninsured patients of South Broward through a multi-clinic primary care system. In addition, Dr. Ayala served as Project Director for Memorial Healthcare System - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Expecting Success: Excellence in Cardiac Care Project, which aimed to improve the quality of inpatient and outpatient cardiac care to all patients, and to identify and eliminate any racial or ethnic disparities in cardiac care provided to minority patients. In her role as Project Director for the Expecting Success Project, Dr. Ayala served as Chairperson of the Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) Task Force for Memorial Regional Hospital, where she facilitated the coordination of emergency department and cardiac cath lab teams to achieve evidence-based indicators for door-to-balloon time. She also oversaw Memorial Healthcare System's Expecting Success Community Demonstration Project, a comprehensive outpatient disease management program that targeted uninsured patients recently hospitalized for acute myocardial infarction and/or heart failure.

Dr. Ayala is a Board Certified Internal Medicine Physician and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. She received her A.B. degree (cum laude) in Sociology from Princeton University and Doctor of Medicine degree (with distinction) from Wayne State University School of Medicine. She completed her Internal Medicine residency at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital. In addition, she completed two physician leadership fellowships - the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH) Physician Leadership Program and the University of Miami School of Medicine Community Clinical Scholars Program. She lives in Weston, Florida with her fifteen year old son, Abram.

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