Bronx Times - October 2002
While some states have several Hispanic Centers of Excellence addressing medical needs of the Hispanic population,New York State seemed to miss the boat and had a total of zero such centers in the entire state. With the growing Hispanic population in the state, the need for a Hispanic Center of Excellence was needed. Responding to this need, the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded the Albert Einstein College of Medicine a $1.2 million grant to establish the first such center in the state, one of only 31 nationwide. On Thursday, October 24, AECOM held an inaugural celebration unveiling the new Hispanic Center of Excellence to the public.
"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to improve the resources available to the communities we serve and to further understanding, among our students and faculty, of the diverse health concerns of the people of the Bronx," said Dr. A. Hal Strelnick, program director of Einstein's Hispanic center. “The grant we received recognizes Albert Einstein's vision that this school would admit students regardless of race, religion, creed or color, long before the civil rights movement was in place."
Dr. Dominick P. Purpura, the Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz dean of the medical school, concurred with his colleague's statement. "I am proud to say that we have not let Albert Einstein down," he said. "He would be very proud and we are very proud that our institution is the home of the Hispanic Center of Excellence. As an institution, we have always strived to assess and address the needs of all of the people within our community. The Hispanic Center of Excellence allows us to continue in that tradition."
For nearly 50 years, AECOM has made its home in the Bronx , a borough of diverse neighborhoods representing a multitude of cultures and nationalities. Among these many cultures, Hispanics represent the largest and fastest growing population. "As the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States, Latinos have been woefully underrepresented at American medical schools," said Congressman Joseph Crowley. "I commend Einstein for their forward vision and commitment to create such an innovative program to help increase the enrollment of Latinos in medical school and improve healthcare for Latino patients. When someone goes to their doctor or hospital, their quality of care is going to be so much better if they can see a doctor who either shares their culture or speaks their language. This program is a win-win for Einstein and for future patients."
Crowley was just one elected official to praise AECOM for bringing the Hispanic Center of Excellence to the Bronx . "I want to thank this institution for being forward thinking and understanding the importance of inclusion," said Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr., who presented a proclamation declaring the day to be Hispanic Center of Excellence Day in the Bronx . "We are in a time when the Hispanic community is the fastest growing sector of the population and they are leaving a mark here. This center represents a coming of age for this sector of the population. We needed to address the needs of the Hispanic community. Whenever we can come together and very seriously address these issues, as we have done today, we are doing a good thing to build all of us up as a community."
Senator Hillary Clinton recognized the day as an important step for Hispanic as they celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. "I commend you on your efforts to strengthen the training and promotion of minority health professionals and encourage research in Hispanic health," she said. "Your hard work and dedication will not only improve the quality of life of our Hispanic communities, but will also benefit our nation as a whole."
Dr. Elizabeth Lee-Rey, co-director of the center with Dr. Nereida Correa, stated that it will help save lives, noting how some Hispanics feel alienated by the care they receive, opting not to seek care until it is too late. "Our center will focus largely on teaching medical students and doctors about the varying cultural attitudes that can impact on the care they provide and their interactions with patients." she said. "We also will seek to expand the number of qualified Hispanic applicants interested in attending medical school or pursuing research opportunities. With the demographics continually changing, we are told that in 2050, one in four people will be Hispanic. With no Hispanic Centers of Excellence in New York State, the time has come for one and we are proud to have it here at Einstein."
For more information about the Hispanic Center of Excellence, call 718-430-2792.