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Published on March 19, 2018

Cone Health Leaders Awarded for Efforts Improving the Health of an East Greensboro Neighborhood

The two make the neighborhood the center of a project in a disparities leadership program.


The Summit Avenue area of east Greensboro was typical of many areas across the country. Too many residents were going to the emergency department with health concerns that would have been easier to treat in a doctor’s office weeks or months before. But there was also a lot of energy in the community to make it a better place. That helped a couple of Cone Health leaders see a healthier future.


The neighborhood benefitted, and Alvin Powell, MD, and Laura Vail, director, Office of Inclusion and Health Equity, Cone Health, earned an award for their vision.

Powell and Vail received an award for best overall project from the Disparities Leadership Program. The program is for leaders from hospitals, health insurance plans and other health care organizations looking for ways to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care. The award is based on various criteria, including the impact of the project on the organization, use of Disparities Leadership Program tools and skills, and overall achievements over the course of the year.

“We chose the neighborhood because we could envision how we might connect several great resources, such as Renaissance Community Co-op, McGirt-Horton Library, Peeler Recreation Center and a future Cone Health clinic,” says Vail. “This was a perfect place to focus existing resources on improving health for people in our community.”

Powell and Vail started monthly health information sessions at the library. Dieticians, nurses and others focused on common health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. They organized flu shots and HIV tests. They met people at the food co-op and at exercise classes at the rec center.

The efforts paid off. The percentage of people needing follow-up care for a health concern dropped from a high of 31 percent to 14 percent. Sixty-two percent of the residents who attended information sessions were interested in ways to improve their health.

Powell and Vail joined residents at the Renaissance Community Co-op as they welcomed Roger Gomez, PA-C. He would anchor Renaissance Family Medicine, opening in the same shopping complex. “We learned many things along the way. Among those is that if there is a provider in the area that people trust, they will manage their care better,” says Powell. “And it’s important to meet people where they are, and be with them in their community.”

The Disparities Leadership Program is the first program of its kind in the nation. The Cone Health leaders were part of 16 health care organizations from around the United States in the 2017-2018 class. The program is led by the Disparities Solutions Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

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