Gov. Edwards announces funds for the Health Equity Task Force

Gov. Edwards announces funds for the Health Equity Task Force
Gov. Edwards said that weather and large crowds are both threats to a state struggling to recover from COVID-19. (Source: LPB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards announced the creation of the Health Equity Task Force Friday, April 10 during his daily COVID-19 media briefing.

The task force will look at how health inequities are affecting communities that are most impacted by the coronavirus.

“We know that right now 70 percent of our deaths in Louisiana from coronavirus are African Americans. This is a disturbing trend and one that deserves our attention, which is why we are engaging a group of leaders right now while the crisis is still ongoing,” Governor Edwards said.

On Friday, April 24 Governor Edwards announced that he is making $500,000 from the Governor’s COVID-19 Response Fund available to the Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Taskforce.

The taskforce will help examine the causes and possible solutions to the high rate of deaths from the coronavirus within Louisiana’s African-American community and other impacted populations.

"The disparity in deaths is especially worrisome, and we need to do everything we can to determine why this is happening,” said Governor Edwards. “African-Americans make up approximately 33 percent of our population yet account for nearly 60 percent of the deaths from this virus. We have an obligation to look for answers and this task force will provide recommendations for addressing the health inequities affecting all communities that are most impacted by this virus. Funding is essential for that work to begin as soon as possible. One death is one too many in any community, and I am committed to helping everyone in our state live healthier lives.”

The funding will be used to conduct the following:

  • Science-based research
  • A comprehensive evidenced-based analysis of the determinants of health equity that influences racial health disparities
  • Evidenced-based analysis of interventions that positively impact health equity and address disparities.
  • An examination of the population dynamics (political, economic, social, technological, and legal) that are indicative of health equity and disparities to formulate a state wide dashboard.
  • Provide health awareness educational media campaigns.
  • Assessments of the status of the state’s response as it affects vulnerable populations and the impact of COVID-19

The governor has asked universities from across the state and research institutions to lead this effort.

“When we talk about health equity, we mean everyone has the opportunity to attain their highest level of health. The great thing is that the findings and recommendations made by this Task Force will help everyone better access quality care and improve health outcomes." Governor Edwards said.

The universities and research institutions that will participate in the task force include:

  • Southern University’s Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy
  • Xavier University’s Department of Public Health Sciences
  • Health Science Centers at LSU and Tulane
  • LDH Office of Public Health
  • LDH Bureau of Minority Health Access
  • Pennington Biomedical Research Center
  • Schools of Nursing at all of Louisiana’s universities

Edwards announced the names of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force co-chairs and members Monday, April 21. He says their work will begin immediately, and its actions and research will result in improved health outcomes and equity in Louisiana. A statewide Health Equity Dashboard will be created to monitor the progress of the task force.

Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force:

Sandra Brown, DNS, APRN, FNP-BC, CNE, ANEF, FAANP, FAAN (co-chair) - Southern University and A&M Baton Rouge Dean and Professor, College of Nursing and Allied Health

Thomas LaVeist, PhD (co-chair) - Tulane University Weatherhead Presidential Chair in Health Equity, Dean of Public Health and Tropical Medicine

Earl “Nupsius” Benjamin-Robinson, Dr. H.Sc. - Louisiana Department of Health- Office of Health Equity, Community Partnerships Deputy Director

Takeisha Davis, M.D. - New Orleans East Hospital Chief Executive Officer

Rebekah E. Gee, M.D. - LSU Health Care Services Chief Executive Officer

Corey Hebert, M.D. - Dillard University Chief Medical Officer / Assistant professor - Tulane and LSU

Theron J. Jackson - Morning Star Baptist Church Pastor

Raymond A. Jetson - MetroMorphosis Chief Executive Catalyst

Peter Katzmarzyk, PhD - Pennington Biomedical Research CenterP rofessor and Marie Edana Corcoran Endowed Chair in Pediatric Obesity and Diabetes/Assoc. Exec. Dir. for Population and Public Health Sciences, LSU

Kathleen B. Kennedy, PharmD - Xavier University of Louisiana Dean and Malcolm Ellington Professor of Health Disparities Research Endowed Professorship in the College of Pharmacy

Michael W. McClanahan - NAACP State President

Orlando McMeans, PhD - Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center Chancellor

Judy Reese Morse - Urban League of Louisiana President and CEO

Demetrius Porche, DNS, PhD, APRN, ANEF, FACHE, FAANP, FAANLSUHSC School of Nursing – Dean and Professor President, Louisiana Council of Administration of Nursing Education

Rani G. Whitfield, MD - Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group Family Practice Physician

Gary M. Wiltz, MD - Teche Action Clinics Chief Executive Officer

Sen. Regina Barrow - Louisiana State Senate District 15

Rep. Dustin Miller - Louisiana House of Representatives District 40

Task Force Subcommittees

Public and Regulatory Policy (Provides input relative to policies and laws that impacts health disparities)

Deleso A. Alford, J.D., - LL.M.Southern University Law Center Professor of Law

Damien Ejigiri, Ph.D. - Southern University and A&M CollegeDean and Professor - Nelson Mandela School of Government and Social Sciences

Eric van Holm, Ph.D. - University of New OrleansAssistant Professor, Political Science

Alma C. Stewart, R.N., - M.SLouisiana Center for Health Equity President and Founder

Christopher J. Tyson, J.D.LSU Law CenterNewman Trowbridge Distinguished Professor of Law

Nursing (Provides input from the group that comprises the largest percentage of health professionals in the healthcare workforce)

Alicia Bates, PhD, NP-C, CDE Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady UniversityAssistant Professor, FNP Program Director

Mary Meg Brown, PhD, - RN, ACNS-BC Grambling State University Associate Dean and Professor - School of Nursing

Leanne Fowler, DNP, MBA, APRN, AGACNP-BC, CNE LSU Health New Orleans School of Nursing Assistant Professor of Clinical NursingDirector of NP Programs, Coordinator of AGACNP Concentration

Tavell L. Kindall, - APRN, FNP-BC, DNP Loyola University, Adjunct Instructor St. Thomas Community Health CenterNurse Practitioner and Director HIV Prevention and Treatment Center

Cindy Schneider, MSN, RN - Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady UniversityAssistant Professor

Kathleen Tate, EdD, MSN, MBA - Associate Professor of Nursing, Northwestern State University

Jeanine S. Thomas, PhD, MSN, RN - Associate Dean of Nursing and Allied Health, South Louisiana Community College

Medical Community (Provides significant contributions in the medical field relative to COVID-19)

Kristi L. Anderson - LSUHC-Lafayette Director, Graduate Medical Admissions

Raynando L. Banks, MD - Baton Rouge General Mayo Clinic Care Network Family Medicine

Keith Ferdinand, MD - Tulane University Gerald S. Berenson Chair in Preventative Cardiology

Robert Maupin, MD - LSUHC-New OrleansAssociate Dean of Diversity and Community Engagement

Health Disparities and Research (Provides research and data regarding the disparities aligned with COVID-19)

Connie Arnold, Ph.D. - LSUHSC- Shreveport/Feist-Weiller Cancer CenterProfessor of Medicine

Terry C. Davis, Ph.D. - LSUHC-Shreveport/Feist-Weiller Cancer CenterProfessor of Medicine and Pediatrics

Margarite Echevveri, Ph.D. - Xavier UniversityEducational Coordinator in Health Disparities, Cultural Competence and Diversity at the Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education

Peter Fos, Ph.D. - Dillard UniversityProfessor of Health and Wellness and Health Equity Researcher

Faye Grimsley, PhD, - CIH, MSPH Xavier UniversityHead, Department of Public Health

Dr. Amy Lesen - Dillard University Associate Professor of Biology and Researcher

Rhoda Reddix, Ph.D.- Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University Associate Professor, Director of Service Learning, specialization, health disparities: community engagement and service

Daniel Sarpong, Ph.D. - Xavier University Director of the Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education, Endowed Chair of Health Disparities and Professor of Biostatistics in the College of Pharmacy

Lisa VanHoose, PT, PhD, MPH- University of Louisiana at Monroe Associate Professor and Program Director in the Physical Therapy

Data and Analytics( Provides expertise in the analysis of relevant data which will add to the work of the committee)

Ziad Ashkar, MD, MPH - University of Louisiana-Lafayette Director - Louisiana Center for Health Innovation and Chair in Health Informatics

Jacqueline Harris, Ph.D. - Grambling State University Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Simone Rambotti, Ph.D. - Loyola University Assistant Professor of Sociology

Community Outreach and Engagement (Provides input on community outreach and extension activities, especially in lower socioeconomic parishes with high incidence rates)

Shelina Davis, MPH, MSW - Chief Executive Officer Louisiana Public Health Institute

Tina B. Granger, MSW, LMSW - Nicholls State University Sociology Program Coordinator / InstructorCatherine G. Haywood DirectorLouisiana Community Health Workers Outreach Network, Inc. (LACHON)

Rudy Macklin, BS - Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Bureau of Minority Health Access

Tiffany Netters - 504HealthNet, Inc.Executive Director

Dereck J. Rovaris Sr., Ph.D. -Louisiana State University Vice Provost for Diversity and Chief Diversity Officer

Taskforce Administration

Ray L. Belton, Ph.D. - Southern University System President-Chancellor

Kim Hunter-Reed, Ph.D. - Louisiana Board of Regents Commissioner

Kimberly Lewis Robinson, JD, MPA - Louisiana Department of Revenue Secretary

Katara Williams, Ph.D. - Southern University System Chief of Staff

Adren Wilson, Ph.D. - Office of the Governor Deputy Chief of Staff

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