Faith leaders pledge to help reach African Americans


Reaching out to African Americans is important to the success of King County’s enrollment efforts. The rate of being uninsured is more than 27% among African Americans in King County, compared with 12% among whites. The lack of insurance among African Americans is connected to poor health, says Dr. Ben Danielson, medical director of the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic.

“It is not acceptable that chronic diseases like asthma occur four times more frequently and more severely for urban African Americans than whites. It is not okay that rates of prenatal care, premature deliveries, and infant mortality are two to three times higher,” Danielson said at a breakfast meeting of leaders from faith-based organizations in the African American community.

“All of these things add up to life expectancies that are 10 years less. These are real people’s lives, these are families ravaged by the loss of parents, uncles, sisters,” he said.

Faith-based organizations are part of a strategy to reach out to African Americans regarding the new health care options. The faith leaders at the Oct. 12 breakfast heard from:

  • Rev. Mary Diggs-Hobson, executive director of African American Reach and Teach Health Ministry (AARTH)
  • Dr. Ben Danielson, medical director of the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic
  • Daphne Pie, access and outreach manager for Public Health
  • Pamela Cowley, outreach manager for Washington Health Benefit Exchange
  • Nathasja Skorupa of Amerigroup Corp.
  • Cynthia Andrews, executive director of The Central (where the event took place)
  • Rev. James P Broughton, III of Damascus Baptist Church

The main outreach strategy for King County is based on geography, city by city, and getting enrollment information to the places where high numbers of uninsured live. “People shouldn’t have to find us, we should find them,” said Pie.

But the African American community is spread across several cities, from central Seattle to Federal Way. That’s one reason faith organizations can help, since they work across cities.

All of this is aimed at getting people healthier, espeically when African-Americans have such high rates of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

“Our goal is to reduce health disparities, and we can’t do it ourselves. We need your ideas and help,” said Pie.

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