MIAMI--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 20, 2005--Under a $25,000 grant provided by the Aetna (NYSE: AET) Foundation, Hispanic people who don't speak English are receiving important health education and learning the most effective ways to access Florida's health care system. The Hispanic Health Initiative project was conducted by Memorial Healthcare System, and provided health assessments for non-English-speaking Hispanics in six key disease conditions, many of which affect the Hispanic community in disproportionate numbers. Those conditions are: Diabetes, asthma, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and sickle cell disease.
The outreach already is showing positive results. The program began with a health fair, at which baseline health information was collected from more than 150 Hispanic South Florida residents. Memorial then hosted lectures on each of the six key disease conditions, which are the leading causes of death and illness among Hispanics.
At a wrap-up event, 98 people registered for the Hispanic Health Initiative, and their progress was monitored over several months. Within six months, participants reduced their blood pressure by 40 percent, cut their body mass index by 20 percent, and lowered their cholesterol levels by 80 percent.
"Aetna is delighted by the progress of the Hispanic Health Initiative," said Dr. Valerie Beckles, Aetna's medical director for South Florida. "People of Hispanic descent are at increased risk for a number of chronic diseases, and therefore need to be acutely aware of the factors that impact those ailments. Awareness efforts such as this, coupled with consistent follow-up over time, hold great potential for improving the health of people in the South Florida Hispanic community."
Aetna's Monica Almas, regional director of Emerging Markets Strategy, has worked closely with leaders of the area's Hispanic community to encourage health promotion efforts. "South Florida is extremely diverse, and our Hispanic community features people from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures," Almas said. "Aetna is committed to working closely with medical and business groups serving this community to improve awareness of health issues that affect everyone."
Memorial Healthcare System sponsored the initiative in partnership with Hispanic Unity of Florida, the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, the Latin Chamber of Commerce, the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, McFatter Technical Center and several local churches and community organizations.
"The Memorial Healthcare System is grateful for the opportunity to work with the Aetna Foundation and Hispanic Unity to address the key health issues affecting the Latin community," said Carlos J. Reyes, board member of the South Broward Hospital District, who was instrumental in guiding the program's focus. "While our short-term goals are education and health assessments, our long-term goal is to look at these health assessments over a specific period of time and document positive changes in the health of program participants."
Since its inception over 50 years ago, Memorial Healthcare System has been a leader in providing high-quality health care services to South Florida residents. Memorial Regional Hospital, located in Hollywood, Fla., is the flagship facility of the healthcare system and is one of the largest hospitals in Florida. Memorial Regional Hospital offers an extensive and diverse level of services, including a state-of-the-art cardiac and vascular institute featuring nationally renowned surgeons and a cancer institute offering a multidisciplinary, disease-specific approach to cancer treatment.
The Aetna Foundation is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna Inc. Founded in 1972, the Foundation seeks to help build healthy communities by funding initiatives that improve the quality of life where our employees and customers work and live. Since 1980, the Aetna Foundation has contributed more than $270 million in grants, scholarships and social investments. The Foundation's giving is focused on reducing racial and ethnic disparities in health care. Additional information about the Aetna Foundation is available at www.aetna.com/foundation.
As one of the nation's leading providers of health care, dental, pharmacy, group life, disability and long-term care benefits, Aetna puts information and helpful resources to work for its approximately 14.4 million medical members, 12.8 million dental members, 9.0 million pharmacy members and 14.0 million group insurance members to help them make better informed decisions about their health care and protect their finances against health-related risks. Aetna provides easy access to cost-effective health care through a nationwide network of more than 672,000 health care professionals, including approximately 400,000 primary care and specialist doctors and 4,084 hospitals. For more information, please visit www.aetna.com. (Figures as of March 31, 2005)