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June 2, 2006


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Medical Field Leaders Honored As TCWF Champions Of Diversity In Health Professions

José A. Arévalo, Rolland C. Lowe and Patricia Pratt Awarded $25,000 Each for Leadership in Increasing Diversity in Health Professions

Woodland Hills (CA) —The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF) presented its fourth annual Champions of Health Professions Diversity Award to three leaders who have pioneered programs and policies to increase diversity within the medical professions. The honorees are Dr. José A. Arévalo of Sacramento, Dr. Rolland C. Lowe of San Francisco and Patricia Pratt of Los Angeles. Each received a $25,000 grant in recognition of his or her work and achievements at an awards ceremony in San Francisco on Monday, June 12, 2006.

California’s population continues to grow, and by 2020 it will be older and significantly more ethnically and racially diverse. There are already shortages of workers in nearly all sectors of the health workforce. The future health of the people of California as well as the health of our state’s economy will depend on our success in tapping the skills of the full spectrum of our diverse workforce. Through their work as community and institutional leaders, each of the awardees has reduced barriers to entry and ensured success for minorities in medical professions. During their careers, each participated in creating policy and programs that helped encourage and increase the number of ethnic minorities in medical school.

In a state as ethnically and racially diverse as California, a health care workforce that reflects the population and understands cultural nuances is a critical component of access and quality. Recent data show that while a third of California’s 36 million residents are Latino, only 4 percent of doctors, 6 percent of dentists and 4 percent of registered nurses in the state are Latino. This underrepresentation is similar for African-Americans and for a number of Asian and Pacific Islander groups. Cultural competence ensures that health professionals can communicate and deliver therapies and advice effectively. A lack of culturally competent care is one of the factors cited for poor health outcomes for many ethnic minority groups.

“This year’s awardees are among California’s pioneers working to creating a more diverse cadre of physicians that reflects the demographic realities of our state,” said Gary L. Yates, TCWF president and CEO. “California faces a serious shortage of physicians of color who disproportionately provide care for the poor and uninsured. We need to continue to build on the work of these champions to improve the health of underserved communities.”

The three awardees have established programs and advocated for policies to increase ethnic-minority, medical-school enrollment. A local and state champion for Latinos in the health professions, Arévalo is currently the medical director of Sutter Independent Physicians in the Sacramento region, while still finding time to lead peer programs to recruit and support Latino doctors. A pioneer advocate for changes in national and state policy, Lowe practices medicine in San Francisco’s Chinatown, where he provides high-quality care to low-income residents and mentors young doctors about the importance of practicing in and advocating for one’s community. As the director of academic enrichment and outreach at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Pratt is a nationally recognized innovator in creating programs that recruit and matriculate medical students from underserved, disadvantaged communities.

José A. Arévalo, MD

José Arévalo is the medical director of Sutter Independent Physicians, a 500-physician, multispecialty Independent Physician Association located in Greater Sacramento. He has championed the need to attract Latinos into the medical profession throughout his career. He has also served on the faculty of the UC Davis Medical School, instilling the importance of cultural competency through practice and program development.

When Arévalo was director of the Medical Student Education Program within the UC Davis Medical School’s Department of Family Practice, he established the Minority Initiative Program, which offered peer mentoring and workshops to ethnic minority students in medical school. He also was the lead administrative physician for Clinica Tepati, a student-run health care clinic serving primarily Spanish-speaking Latinos in Sacramento County.

Raised in San Antonio, Texas, Arévalo graduated from UC Berkeley and Stanford Medical School. He completed his residency at UC San Francisco (UCSF) and has served on admissions committees at Stanford, UCSF and UC Davis Medical Schools. He was first exposed to the medical profession when he trained to be a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman during the Vietnam War. He is a member of the Strategic Planning Committee for the Network of Ethnic Physician Organizations and currently serves as the president of the Sacramento Chapter of the California Latino Medical Association. He has seven children and three grandchildren, and resides with his wife in Rocklin, California.

“Diversifying the health care workforce, in my mind, should be a high priority,” Arévalo said. “There are big differences in patients’ willingness to accept and understand therapies. Increasing the number of individuals from various cultures who understand and have the ability to communicate more effectively will help us provide high-quality care.”

Rolland C. Lowe, MD

Rolland Lowe is in private practice in San Francisco’s Chinatown where he is a well-known, respected health advocate for the community. Lowe mentors young physicians to work in their communities, earn trust and serve patients’ needs. He also promotes cultural competency and workforce diversity through public health policy, planning and advocacy both within organized medicine and through his foundation work.

Lowe’s philanthropic work mirrors his professional commitment to the community. Lowe aided in the formation of the Chinese Community Health Care Association, which helped create a culturally and linguistically appropriate health education center. At the Chinese Hospital, he has held many key positions, including chief of staff and chairman of the board. Lowe was involved in forming the Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum, a recognized national voice of the Asian Pacific Islander community on health issues. As the first Asian-American president of the California Medical Association (CMA), he advocated for and helped create a voting section for ethnic physicians in the House of Delegates within the CMA. As president of the CMA Foundation, he founded the Network of Ethnic Physician Organizations.

A native of San Francisco, he graduated from UC Berkeley and UCSF Medical School. He has held board seats at numerous health, education and community organizations, including the Chinese Cultural Foundation, the United Way of America, the CMA Foundation and the Council on Foundations. He founded and is currently chairman of the Lawrence Choy Lowe Memorial Fund, named after his father. He has three children and three grandchildren, and lives with his wife in the East Bay.

“Ethnic-minority physicians, because we are respected in our communities for providing culturally sensitive, one-on-one service, need to build on that trust and work with our patients so together we can become advocates for their care,” Lowe said. “We stand tall here in Chinatown because we are a part of this community.”

Patricia Pratt

Patricia Pratt is the director of academic enrichment and outreach at the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She believes that giving a helping hand at the right point in time can make a major difference in a student’s life and in the health of a community. She has worked on increasing and supporting diversity in medical-school enrollment for more than 25 years.

She has played significant roles in establishing numerous UCLA programs aimed at recruiting and retaining ethnic-minority medical students. She previously directed UCLA’s federally funded Health Career Opportunity Program, during which time she institutionalized its services and personnel. Pratt was the creator of UCLA PREP, a comprehensive premedical enrichment program for minority and disadvantaged students. It has become a national model and has produced physicians, researchers and academicians for California and the nation.

Born in Chicago, Pratt is the descendant of an abolitionist and an unyielding great-grandmother, who was emancipated from slavery and who defied Jim Crow laws to ensure that her family could read, write and participate in society. Pratt received her undergraduate degree from UCLA. She lives with her daughter in Los Angeles.

“Influential people are saying, ‘We have done enough. Civil rights happened. Affirmative action happened. We need to take the best and the brightest of everyone and forget about leveling the playing field,’” Pratt said. “What is overlooked is that which makes us the best is the quality of human beings that come in through minority pathways.”

Arévalo, Lowe and Pratt will join TCWF directors, staff and Grantees of the Foundation at a ceremony at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco on Monday, June 12, 2006.

“Our health care system can be extremely challenging to navigate and we need doctors and other health professionals who can truly connect with their patients,” said Saba Brelvi, TCWF program director. “We applaud these champions, who have led the way in developing a more diverse health workforce.”

TCWF prioritized the issue of diversity in the health professions in 2000. Grants that address the issue are commonly given to organizations that provide pipeline programs, scholarships, outreach and retention programs, internships, fellowships and loan repayment programs for ethnic minorities that are underrepresented in the health professions. Careers in medicine, nursing, public health and other allied health professions are included. Organizations that support leadership development for people of color in the health professions are also eligible for funding. In addition, TCWF funds organizations that educate policymakers and advocate for public and institutional policies that promote diversity in the health professions.

The California Wellness Foundation is a private, independent foundation created in 1992 with the mission of improving the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention. The Foundation prioritizes eight issues for funding: diversity in the health professions, environmental health, healthy aging, mental health, teenage pregnancy prevention, violence prevention, women's health, and work and health. TCWF also responds to timely issues or special projects outside the funding priorities. Since 1992, TCWF has awarded 4,254 grants totaling more than $507 million.

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