National Minority Health Month aims to address equity issues

April is National Minority Health Month, a time to raise awareness about health disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minority populations. This is also a time to encourage action through health education, early detection and reduce complications from diseases.

Erica Hill, LMH Health director for Health Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, said inequities in health and well-being disproportionately affected racial minority communities. She noted that the origin of National Minority Health Month is in the 1915 establishment of National Negro Health Week by Booker T. Washington. In 2002, National Minority Health Month received support from Congress with a concurrent resolution that “a National Minority Health and Health Disparities Month should be established to promote educational efforts on the health problems currently facing minorities and other health disparity populations.”

Hill said that this resolution also encouraged health care organizations and Americans to promote healthfulness in through day-to-day actions and programs.

“Barriers to a person’s health and wellness extend far beyond the health sector,” Hill said. “Everyone deserves the opportunity to be healthy. By working together we are going to be a healthier and stronger community. It is important to recognize that not all health disparities are related to lower income or lack of resources.”

LMH Health is building programs to help bridge the health equity gap, as this work is integral to the hospital’s role as a partner in lifelong health. But what is health equity? Hill said one of her favorite definitions of health equity came from the Robert J. Wood Foundation, which describes it as “increasing opportunities for everyone to live the healthiest life possible, no matter who we are, where we live or how much money we make.”

“Advancing health equity and creating the opportunity for people to live their healthiest life possible is at the heart of this community,” she said. “It’s important to address the immediate needs, and it’s also imperative to plan for the future. Early childhood exposure to poor health conditions tends to affect an individual across their lifespan. Education can create opportunities for better health. As a community we must ensure a healthy future for our youth and provide opportunities for quality education and health and well-being.”

Dr. Ashley Bloom, a physician at East Heights Family Care, echoed Hill’s statements. She said that as we look at data for life expectancy and severity of chronic conditions, we see minorities are at a higher risk of more severe disease and shorter life expectancy.

“National Minority Health Month provides a time for our health system and community to make sure we are advancing and addressing the needs of our patients and community members who are in the minority groups,” Bloom said. “We also need to make sure we are encouraging those in minority groups to seek care when needed and develop a health care plan. Along with that, we need to make sure resources are available to our patients so they can successfully receive this care.”

She said it was important for children and adults to have a primary care provider for annual checkups. Having a provider who knows you makes it easier to help you quickly and efficiently address illnesses.

“It is important as a medical community to know what barriers our patients may have in the way of achieving their health goals,” Bloom said. “This month helps really shed light on these.”

It is still important, even amid COVID, to seek medical attention when it is needed, she said.

“When the vaccine is available to you, we strongly encourage you go get it,” Bloom said. “The vaccine decreases deaths and severity of illness from COVID-19. Through research we have found the pandemic has disproportionately affected people of color and minorities. We want to be mindful and make sure those who are at higher risk have the facts, have access to the vaccine when it is available to them and know how to get it.”

You can find the Douglas County Vaccine Interest Form at Once you’ve completed the form, you will be placed in a pool and randomly selected to receive your vaccine.

“All providers constantly seek to improve their care for patients. Health equity makes sure that we also give everyone the chance to achieve their best health,” she said.

For more information about National Minority Health Month, visit

— Jessica Brewer is the social media and digital communications specialist at LMH Health.


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