Did you know that New Jersey has the highest rate of foreign-born immigrants? That nationwide African Americans are four times more likely to die from asthma than their white counterparts? That nine out of 10 adults have difficulty understanding their medications?

These and other fascinating facts where revealed at the American Conference on Diversity Health Equity conference in early December, the first of two information-packed learning events funded by Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and aimed at closing the healthcare disparities gap.

“We can no longer deny that health inequity is a problem,” said President and CEO Elizabeth Williams-Riley. “That’s why the American Conference on Diversity is now in its fifth year of delivering these cultural-competency conferences for the healthcare sector. But this is just one facet of what we do—we’re working hard on issues of equality and social justice across all industries and for all people.”

► “Improving the Quality & Safety of Care for Diverse Patient Populations,” held December 7, was designed for healthcare professionals and health system administrators. The conference explored the relationship between health literacy and equality and what health professionals need to do to foster more health literate organizations.

Thought-provoking presenters included Director of the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health at the NJ Department of Health M. Carolyn Daniels, DHSc; Common Sense Advisory Chief Research Officer and Co-author of Found in Translation Nataly Kelly; Meridian Health Manager of Cultural Diversity C. Darryl Hughes; Meridian Health Language Assistance Program Administrator Kendra Haydel; and Horizon NJ Health Manager of Health Education Nekia Lewis, MPA. The conference also included a panel discussion titled “Reaching Into and Providing Care Inclusive of Diverse Markets,” with Vice President of Research at HRET NJHA Dr. Firoozeh Vali, MLS, MA, Ph.D.; Associate Professor at UMDNJ School of Nursing Frances Munet-Vilaro, Ph.D.; and Director of Adult Outpatient Services, AtlantiCare Behavioral Health – Health Literacy and LGBQT Community – Cydney Savage, LPC.

Moderators included Manager of Training, UMDNJ, Cassandra Martin, MHS, and Practice Administrator, Women’s Ambulatory Care Services, Saint Peter’s University Hospital, Anna Trautwein, RNC.

► Healthcare Cultural Competency Train the Trainer Program was held December 13 to a full house of healthcare professionals with the responsibility for staff education. Facilitated by the American Conference on Diversity Director of Professional Development Services Renee Ayers, MPA, and Vice President of Operations & Community Relations Linda Tondow, RN, MSN, the free program helped participants explore issues of diversity within themselves and in relation to the healthcare environment. It also equipped them to improve on the communications skills needed to provide care to a diverse patient population. This annual program is a continuing nursing education activity approved for 6.25 contact hours by the New Jersey State Nurses Association.

Both events were held at the NJHA Conference Center in Princeton, N.J.

What attendees said about our conference and training program:

“The speakers were excellent and highly informative.”

–Dale Ofei-Ayisi, MA, LCSW, Coordinator, COPSA Geriatric Services

“Excellent conversation, excellent conference.”

–Pamela deWilde, RN, Assistant Nurse Manager, South Jersey Healthcare System

“Great job! The discussions were really dynamic and I learned many concepts and examples that I can share with my staff.”

–Victor Gazzara, MSW, LSW, DM, Program Director, Department of Patient and Family Experience, Director, Social Services, Shore Medical Center and American Conference on Diversity Atlantic County chapter board member

About the American Conference on Diversity

The programs, services, and initiatives of the American Conference on Diversity are among the most important work focused on creating a more inclusive society. It is the unfinished business of living in a highly diverse nation: educating and empowering our next generation of leaders; enhancing our workplaces; and helping to create inclusive communities. The American Conference on Diversity builds on a historic mission and creates programs and activities relevant and vital to 21st Century life. It is a journey we can all take together. The American Conference on Diversity operates eight chapters to help us to educate and empower leaders and bring our messages of inclusion and respect to communities throughout New Jersey: Atlantic County Chapter, Bayonne Chapter, Central Jersey Chapter, Essex County Chapter, Greater Bergen Chapter, Hudson County Chapter, Jersey Shore Chapter, and Mercer County Chapter. Visit www.AmericanConferenceonDiversity.org to learn more.