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Approaching CT Health Disparities on Biz Terms

January 21, 2013

HARTFORD, Conn. - A new approach is being employed to help eliminate racial and health disparities in Connecticut, and it involves speaking to business leaders in business terms.

Lina Paredes, vice president of program with the Connecticut Health Foundation, says past efforts have fallen short, because they weren't speaking to local business leaders effectively. That's why the foundation is providing a $200,000 grant to get across their message, that addressing health disparities can also increase profitability for a business.

"Because the reality is, while people do appreciate that it's the right thing to do, it's the moral thing to do, what's also important is for them to notice is that it increases the value of their bottom line."

In addition to the business sector, Paredes says, the grant will also fund formulation of communication strategies to reach health, education and community leaders to emphasize what she calls the critical link between the strength of their organization and the health of their people.

Part of the grant money is going to GALEWill Design where founder Bob McKinnon says one of their tasks will be getting the message out to business leaders.

"The way to do it is not by just using the language, you know of the New England Journal of Medicine, but instead have it look like, and feel like and sound like that it's coming from the Wall Street Journal. For example, most wellness programs have shown on average to have a five-to-one return on investment."

Paredes says it's a big job because while it's a relatively healthy state, Connecticut has some of the greatest ethnic and racial health disparities in the nation.

"And their strategy is to work with leaders in these different sectors in education, in communities to show them how important it is to address health disparities through their work."

The effort is being called, "Campaign for Stronger Connecticut: Building Bridges to Better Health."

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT