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BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) — Louisiana Healthcare Connections is partnering with higher education outlets across the state to fund a $1.5 million program to eliminate health disparities and create a more inclusive, representative healthcare system.

“Equity looks like, to me, that we both walk into the same clinic regardless of our race, color, or what have you, and we get the same treatment and we have the same wait times,” said CEO Jamie Schlottman.

The Equity in Health and Care initiative will implement coordinated strategies in partnership with Xavier University, Bossier Parish Community College and Delgado Community College. The initiative will focus on four major areas: equity in health outcomes, diversity and inclusion in the healthcare workforce, economic social determinants of health, and community health.

“It would be nice to go into a clinic and see people that look like you,” said Schottlman.  

The multi-year investment will also provide scholarship programs in medical coding and community health work for students with Medicaid looking to enter healthcare.  

“Thirteen percent of Black babies were born with low birth weight as compared to 8% of white babies, why is that? One of the things we wanted to look at was economic elevation, how can we help lift people up out of Medicaid, and one way you do that is through education and job opportunity,” said Schlottman.

The goal is to create more skilled and diverse workers to tackle maternal and childhood health, hypertension and diabetes.

“With a lot of folk in the Medicaid population there’s some stigma, and there’s some trust issues about going in to see the doctor,” said Schlottman

Schlottman hopes this initiative will transform Louisiana’s healthcare system for the Medicaid population through academic research and focused pilot projects. 

“We didn’t just want to throw 1.5 million out there and nothing happens, we want a significant return on this investment,” said Schlottman.