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St. Francis Partners With Urban League To Address Health Disparities In Hartford


January 15, 2013

HARTFORD— To further eliminate health inequities within the city's African American population, St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center has created a partnership with the Urban League of Greater Hartford.

The Center for Health Equity and the Curtis D. Robinson Men's Health Institute, both operated by Saint Francis, have moved into 5,400 square-feet of space in the Urban League building on Ashley Street and began operating there this week. Both organizations had previously operated out of the main St. Francis building.

The Urban League is a community-based agency that provides education and professional services to the African American community in Hartford. The space, hospital officials say, will give the two health organizations more room to do their work and make it more convenient for members of the community to stop in and seek help.

The Men's Health Institute was formed in 2010 with a $1 million donation from Hartford resident Curtis D. Robinson. It has focused on raising awareness among African American men about the importance of getting screened for prostate cancer, and treatment for it if necessary. African American men are at a significantly higher risk than other populations of getting prostate cancer, and have historically been one of the groups least likely to get tested for it.

While the Men's Health Institute has focused mainly on prostate cancer, the Center for Health Equity addresses health disparities in general through education, research and community engagement.

"We're trying to identify inequities within our population," said Rebecca Santiago, a public health nurse for St. Francis, adding that diabetes and high blood pressure are also major concerns within the African American population. "We want to assess policies to make sure that what we're doing out there in the community is measurable and that we're screening for people who would not normally get it."

The Men's Health Institute has provided health information to thousands of people since 2010, performed prostate cancer screenings for 1,500 men and treated 26 men diagnosed with prostate cancer. Robinson, himself a prostate cancer survivor, said he had the idea for the center after he spoke with a doctor about why so many African American men die of prostate cancer.

"He explained that we hate to go to doctors," Robinson said. "A lot didn't come because they don't have insurance and use the ER as their primary care." That means they only get treatment after it has reached the advanced stages, he said.

Robinson added, "I don't want to see anyone die because of it. It has an 89 to 90 percent curable rate if you catch it in time."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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