Health disparities among African Americans in Erie County is a topic which is gaining steam among local leaders. At the second annual Igniting Hope Conference, held this past weekend, one of the main ideas was on how to get disparate groups, all working towards the same goal of improving the social determinants of health among African Americans, all at the table and working cohesively. To that end, Erie County Medical Center Corporation is providing $372,000 to help create the Buffalo Center for African American Health Equity.
The center is part of an overall effort to improve the quality of life in for East Side residents. ECMC President Thomas Quatroche said leaders from different sectors of the community are coming together to help people in neighborhoods which have been long neglected.
“I think the timing’s right, in that there’s funding be provided for these types of efforts,” he said. “Because finally, I think, as a health care community we’re really looking at the care for the people of the East Side of Buffalo, very differently.”
Quatroche said they are not looking at this from a purely clinical perspective. He said social determinants such as transportation, food deserts and housing are just as important to healthier outcomes as clinical care.
He said it is all part of a bigger picture.
“There have been many efforts in the community but they’ve kind of been happening in silos,” he said. “So this is really looking at the whole picture. We just purchased Kensington Heights behind us. We have a community group that has come together to look at what might make sense for both the medical center and the community but we’re doing that in concert with the community.”
By making such an investment, Quatroche said the medical center is helping to do its part in creating a culture of healthy living for residents in the neighborhood.