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Jean Mills Health Symposium to address health disparities Feb. 9-10

Jean Mills
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Feb. 2, 2007)   —   Now in its third year, the Jean Mills Health Symposium will expand from one to two days Feb. 9-10 thanks to a $10,000 grant by the Pitt Memorial Hospital Foundation. The symposium will address health issues affecting blacks and Hispanics.

The second day will feature an inaugural community health fair with free exercise, fitness and cooking demonstrations, nutrition information, recipe exchanges, health screenings and educational literature.

Also it is the first time that Hispanic health issues will be addressed. "In the past we focused on African-American issues because as a minority group, they represented a large portion of individuals who were underserved in eastern North Carolina. As the Hispanic population increases, we feel it is important that health disparities facing Hispanics are also addressed," said Dr. Beth Velde, assistant dean and associate professor in the East Carolina University School of Allied Health Sciences and one of the organizers of the symposium.

The event will be held at the Greenville Hilton this year after being held the past two years at the Edwin W. Monroe AHEC Conference Center.

One of the most serious issues facing blacks and Hispanics in North Carolina is the lack of access and availability of health providers and the economic and environmental injustices that contribute to health-related problems, Velde said.

"While there is a higher incidence and prevalence of substance abuse, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and stroke in these populations, the underlying reasons behind the existence of these conditions in blacks and Hispanics can frequently be linked to economic and environmental contributors," Velde said.

The symposium will bring together researchers and community members who can work together to address disparities. "Sessions this year feature ECU researchers and community agencies who are taking an active role in enhancing community health and quality of life," Velde said.

The first day, titled "Making Research Real in Reducing Health Disparities and Transforming Health Services" will feature presentations and posters on topics such as obesity, diabetes, stroke and disability. The workshop is targeted at health care providers, community leaders from rural eastern North Carolina and ECU faculty and students who have an interest in the topic of health disparities.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. James Johnson, William Rand Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Management at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Participants will include Dr. Deirdre Mageean, vice chancellor of research and graduate studies at ECU; Dr. Eric Bailey, ECU medical anthropologist; Dr. Chris Mansfield, director of ECU's Center for Health Services Research and Development; Dr. Kathy Kolasa, professor of family medicine in the Brody School of Medicine; Dr. Max Zarate, assistant professor in ECU's Department of Health Education; Lucy Wong Hernandez, a visiting lecturer in ECU's College of Human Ecology; Dr. Monica Carion-Jones, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at ECU; Velde; Gary Grant, executive director of Concerned Citizens of Tillery; and Dr. Steve Wing, associate professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The second day's community outreach is titled "Practicing What You Preach: Developing Healthy Habits." The public is invited 10 a.m.-2 p.m. for free demonstrations, screenings and education. Blood pressure, blood sugar, weight and fat analysis will be offered. Local community organizations and the School of Allied Health Sciences will provide screenings and educational programs.

The event is presented by the ECU School of Allied Health Sciences in collaboration with the Medical Foundation of ECU, Pitt Memorial Hospital Foundation and the Eastern Area Health Education Center.

Mills earned her bachelor's degree from the Uni


Contact: Crystal Baity | 252-744-2481