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Health disparities, social justice are focus of forum at DePaul University

Physician David Ansell to deliver keynote on racism and public health

Dr. David Ansell
Dr. David Ansell, a physician at Rush University Medical Center, will deliver the keynote at the Health Disparities and Social Justice conference at DePaul University Feb. 6, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Rush University Medical Center)
CHICAGO — The impact of racism and discrimination on a community’s well-being, including access to health care, is one of the topics to be addressed at a conference on health disparities and social justice at DePaul University Feb. 6. Chicago author and public health leader Dr. David Ansell, a physician at Rush University Medical Center, will deliver the keynote, “’I Can’t Breathe’: Racism and the State of Public Health in Chicago.”

The annual conference will be held from 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the DePaul Center in downtown Chicago. Free and open to the public, the conference offers skill-building workshops, poster presentations and networking for public health practitioners who work with diverse populations.

“DePaul is preparing our students to change the health disparities picture in Chicago,” said John Mazzeo, director of the Master of Public Health program, which is organizing the conference. “Experts who are addressing social injustice and improving health care practices in Chicago’s most underserved communities come to this conference to teach, learn and collaborate.”

Among the speakers is Ansell, author of “County: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago’s Public Hospital,” a memoir and social history of Cook County Hospital, where he started as an intern and stayed for 17 years. Ansell’s career as a physician leader and social epidemiologist has been focused on addressing poverty and racism and their role in health care inequality in Chicago.

Much of his work, advocacy and research have been dedicated to the proposition that healthcare is a human right. He is the board president of the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Taskforce that is working to reduce breast cancer mortality among African-American women in Chicago. Ansell is senior vice president, system integration, and professor, internal medicine at Rush. His talk will begin at 3:15 p.m.

Some 18 conference workshops are planned, including:

“No Help in Sight: The Impact of Trauma Center Closures and Longer Ambulance Rides on Gun Violence Survival” | 9:45-11 a.m.
Noam Ostrander, chair of DePaul’s social work department, will discuss trauma center closures and gun violence survival in urban communities, with an aim to empower public health practitioners to help address gaps in trauma networks.

“Transition from Jail/Prison to the Community” | 9:45-11 a.m.
Cynthia Tucker, director of prevention and community partnerships for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, will discuss assisting HIV-positive offenders in accessing medical and specialty care.

“Social Entrepreneurship & Service Learning as Tools to Address Health Disparities: How Students Can Lead the Way” | 1:30-3 p.m.
Robert Trevino, an M.D. and Ph.D. candidate at Rush University, will present frameworks for community-based entrepreneurial activities that can address health disparities.

“Using Data to Enhance Violence Prevention Policy and Practice” |1:30-3 p.m.
Rebecca Levin, director of Strengthening Chicago's Youth at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, will discuss using police crime data and other violence-related data to inform violence prevention.

“You Would Think Coming Home is the Easy Part: Cultural Competence for Health Care Providers in Caring for Veterans and their Families” | 1:30-3 p.m.
Tanya Friese, continuing nursing education manager at Rush University Medical Center, will discuss military culture and the needs of veterans and their families.

“A Global Health Perspective: Guinea Worm Disease” | 1:30-3 p.m.
Courtney Sensenbrenner, an instructor in DePaul’s School of Nursing, will describe Guinea worm disease and worldwide eradication efforts, as well as competencies of a global health professional that can be applied in domestic health care.

Additional information about the Health Disparities and Social Justice Conference is on Facebook at​. For questions, email​.

More information about DePaul’s Master of Public Health​ program in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Science is available at​.

DePaul University and Rush University Medical Center have a history of working together on initiatives ranging from research projects to a joint degree program. In 2014 they formalized a five-year collaboration to plan and coordinate new programs to benefit students in the field of health.


Leah Neubauer​

Media Contact:
Kristin Claes Mathews​
312-241-9856 ​