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NJPHK’s Anderson Shares Importance of Equity and Healthcare Literacy at NJ Rural Health Symposium

May 22, 2016 | Community News, Community News and Media

Quality through Collaboration:  An Integrated Approach to Improving Health in New Jersey Rural Communities” was the 2016 theme for the first New Jersey Rural Health Symposium held on Thursday, April 21.

Attended by more than 200 partners from various communities, educational institutions and government agencies, the event was the first of its kind in New Jersey. The goal of the symposium was to educate and raise awareness of the unique and important rural issues and challenges facing the great Garden State.

This event marked the culmination of a joint effort between New Jersey Primary Care Association and the Office of Primary Care & Rural Health to ensure that all of New Jersey’s residents are well served by having access to high quality healthcare.

NJPHK’s State Deputy Director, Darrin W. Anderson, Sr., PhD, MS, served as a plenary session speaker and shared information on how to promote health care equity and health literacy in primary care. More than one-third of U.S. adults, an estimated 80 million persons, have limited health literacy, making it more difficult for them to read, understand, and apply health information.* According to Anderson, “When it comes to rural communities, we have to communicate health information in a much more simplistic way in order for patients to understand and be more proactive about their health.”

Keynote speaker Alan Morgan, MPA, Chief Executive Officer for the National Rural Health Association, discussed “Population Health: Addressing & Balancing the Whole Person in Rural Health.”  Other presenters included:  Cathleen Bennett, NJ Health Commissioner; Howard Henderson, USDA Rural development New Jersey State Director; and George Pourakis, MD, Senior Public Healthy Analyst.

The mission of the State Office of Rural Health is to serve as a statewide resource for rural health concerns, to improve rural health, and to foster available and accessible health services for rural New Jerseyans. The organization focuses on programs and activities related to five essential functions: collecting and disseminating rural health information, coordinating resources and activities statewide, providing technical assistance to meet rural community health needs, encouraging recruitment and retention of health professionals in rural areas and strengthening state and federal partnerships.

*Kutner MA. The Health Literacy of America’s Adults: Results from the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics; 2006. Berkman ND, Sheridan SL, Donahue KE, Halpern DJ, Crotty K. Low health literacy and health outcomes: an updated systematic review. Ann Intern Med. 2011;155(2):97–107.

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