Thursday, June 30, 2011

Yale University Report Slams Quality of Hospital Care in the Territories

(Washington, DC) – Commenting on the Archives of Internal Medicine report released this week which was critical of territorial hospitals, Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen said today that while “sobering” and “reflective of the health disparities that exist in the U.S. territories,” it is important to realize that the report takes a look at conditions between 2005 and 2008 and that steps have been taken “that would show a very better picture today.”
The Yale study entitled: “Quality of Care in the U.S. Territories” was published online this week by The Archives of Internal Medicine and is expected to be printed in journal form this September.  The report demonstrates health care disparities at hospitals in all of the U.S. territories compared with those on the U.S. mainland.
Congresswoman Christensen cited several important improvements since the study was undertaken. “We now have a full service Cardiac Center and Cancer Center,” she said. “The University of the Virgin Islands now has a Center for Health Disparities Research, and through the stimulus legislation and the health care reform which was passed over the last two years, the territories now have increased Medicaid and other hard fought for inclusion in most healthcare reform programs,” she said.
Congresswoman Christensen said that the data in the report is reflective of the level of premature, preventable deaths that many communities of color across the United States continue to experience. “Although we have improved our care for our residents for more than just the acute heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia that the study looked at, this is no time to rest on our laurels,” she said.
“We have much to do here as well as in communities like ours across the country to bring our health care services and health status to where it ought to be,” she said. “That has been and continues to be the mission of the Congressional Black Caucus  Health Braintrust which I chair,” she said.
Congresswoman Christensen said the report clearly demonstrates the inequities in federal funding and what that has caused in poorer health and increased mortality in the territories. “It is strong justification that I can utilize for more funding in Washington.”
Congresswoman Christensen said that it is important to note that all of the territories, including Puerto Rico, showed higher mortality rates. In light of the improved services now available in the USVI, except in extreme circumstances, there is little reason to choose to travel to another territory for healthcare, she said.

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