Dr. Louis Sullivan, Former Hhs Secretary, Will Speak At Cumc On 1/13 On Diversity In The Healthcare Workforce

January 5, 2005

New York, NY (Jan. 5, 2004) - On Thursday, January 13, Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will speak on diversity in the healthcare workforce at Columbia University Medical Center. The talk will focus on the Sullivan Commission report “Missing Persons: Minorities in the Health Professions.” The seminar will be held at 4:00 p.m. in Room 401 of the Armand Hammer Health Science Center, located at 701 West 168th street in northern Manhattan. It is hosted by the Center for Community Health Partnerships at Columbia University Medical Center and the Pipeline, Profession & Practice: Community-Based Dental Education program, a national program supported by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The California Endowment.

A lack of diversity among healthcare professionals is placing the health of at least one-third of the nation at risk according to the Sullivan Commission report. “Access to health professionals remains largely separate and unequal, “ said Dr. Sullivan. “We know that minority physicians, dentists, and nurses are more likely to serve minority and medically underserved populations, yet there is a severe shortage of minorities in the health professions. Without much more diversity in the health workforce, minorities will continue to suffer.”

From cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, oral disease, and mental health: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and American Indians tend to receive less and lower quality health care than whites, contributing to higher mortality rates. The consequences of health disparities, resulting from the lack of adequately diverse and trained workforce, may be as great of a problem for minorities as is the lack of health insurance for more than 44 million Americans.

“The condition of the nation’s health professions workforce is critical and demands swift, large-scale change to protect the future of the nation. Transforming the system will require changing the face of the American healthcare system,” the report states.

Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., is the founding dean and first president of Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM). With the exception of his tenure as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from 1989 to 1993, Dr. Sullivan was president of MSM for more than two decades. On July 1, 2002, he left the presidency, but continues to serve on the MSM board of trustees, to teach, and to assist in national fund-raising activities on behalf of the school.

He is also the chairman of the board of the National Health Museum in Washington, D.C. and is chairman of the Sullivan Commission on Diversity in the Healthcare Workforce (funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation). He serves as chair of the President’s Commission on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and is co-chair of the President’s Commission on HIV and AIDS.

The seminar is free and open to the public. For further information contact Tamara Cannon at (212) 304-7455. RSVP to jw345@columbia.edu by January 10, 2005.


The Center for Community Health Partnerships is dedicated to supporting academic-community partnerships focused on improving equitable health care. It achieves its objectives by addressing health care problems of the uninsured and underinsured in northern Manhattan, providing direct medical and dental services to the elderly in Harlem, conducting research and developing community partnerships aimed at improving the health of Latinos and African-Americans, increasing the cultural competency of health care professionals, and by offering technical assistance to 15 dental schools to increase access to oral health care services and access to careers in dentistry for underrepresented minority students.

The mission of the national Pipeline, Profession & Practice: Community-Based Dental Education (Dental Pipeline) program is to invest dental education with tools to increase access to dental care for underserved populations in urban and rural communities and to increase access to dental education for underrepresented minority and low-income (URM/LI) students.

The Dental Pipeline program helps dental schools prepare the next generation of practitioners with the knowledge and skills they need to provide this care while engaging community-based resources to provide more services to vulnerable populations.

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, medical education, and health care. The medical center trains future leaders in health care and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, nurses, dentists, and other health professionals at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the School of Dental & Oral Surgery, the School of Nursing, the Mailman School of Public Health, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. With a strong history of some of the most important advances and discoveries in health care, its researchers are leading the development of novel therapies and advances to address a wide range of health conditions.


African Americans, future, MSM, Sullivan Commission