Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, in RPCI Address, Stresses Need for Diverse Health System

Friday, November 19, 2010

Former HHS Secretary and Morehouse Medicine Dean Keynotes Annual Eva M. Noles Recognition Program

BUFFALO, NY — A commitment to understanding and addressing disparities in health care and professional opportunities underscored the annual Eva M. Noles Recognition Program at Roswell Park Cancer Institute(RPCI). The event, held at RPCI November 19, featured a keynote address by a former U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services (HHS) who is also founding President of Morehouse School of Medicine.

“Needed for success in advancing reforms in our health system is a requirement for adequate numbers as well as racial and ethnic diversity of our health professionals,” says Louis W. Sullivan, MD, Chairman of the Sullivan Alliance to Transform America’s Health Professions and HHS Secretary from 1989-1993. “We look forward to the possibility of working with institutions in New York such as Roswell Park Cancer Institute, in efforts to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the healthcare workforce in New York and the nation.”

Toya LaMar, a Clinical Support Assistant in the Ambulatory Services Department at RPCI, received $2,000 toward education-related expenses as recipient of the second Eva M. Noles Scholarship, an annual award for RPCI employees from underrepresented groups. The Noles scholarship honors the legacy of Eva M. Noles, RN, Director of Nursing at RPCI from 1971-1974 and Buffalo’s first African-American registered nurse. LaMar is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Medaille College.

The program also highlighted the efforts of the Office of Cancer Health Disparities (OCHD) at RPCI. Deborah Erwin, PhD, OCHD Director, and Detric “Dee” Johnson, Senior Project Coordinator, earned special recognition at the event for their outreach to underserved populations.

“Today, one-third of Americans are Hispanic, Latino or African-American, as compared to 10 percent of our health professionals,” notes Dr. Sullivan. “By 2042, there will no longer be a white majority in the United States, thus showing the need to increase diversity in the nation’s health professions to ensure optimum health outcomes. This is why the initiatives of the Sullivan Alliance are focused on improving the health status of Americans.”

“This day was about our past, present and future commitment to eliminating barriers and imbalances in access to great health care or to great jobs in health care,” said Reggie Clark, who was named Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at RPCI in August 2010. “We’re proud of Toya, who’s such a fitting inheritor of Ms. Noles’ legacy, and we’re deeply appreciative of Dr. Sullivan’s thoughtful leadership.”

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org