Message from the President – Summer 2008
Baquero: George, today your organizations are hosting their 8th Annual Healthcare Diversity Awards Gala in the most ethnically diverse city in the world. Congratulations on this milestone and the achievements you have reached. Your theme this year is ?Healthcare Leaders Championing Coverage for the Uninsured.? How are you addressing this issue?
Zeppenfeldt-Cestero: At the close of our 2007 gala, we made a conscious decision to tackle this issue by applying for foundation funding to address coverage of ?hard to reach? workers. Over a third of New York State?s 1.2 million Hispanic workers and their dependents have no health insurance. Of the 700,000 uninsured Hispanics in New York State, 500,000 are in New York City. Many of these uninsured individuals may qualify for public insurance. Although 900,000 Hispanics in New York are in public insurance programs, many more qualify. Low-wage workers may not know about programs or believe they do not qualify. Two recent proposals by AHHE to the New York State Health Foundation, in partnership with national health insurance organizations, schools of public health, our affiliate hospital members and NYC business agencies, would have encouraged insurance enrollment through effective and culturally sensitive materials and educational forums to Hispanic chambers of commerce and professional membership organizations and would have targeted 2,250 employers and 12,375 workers to increase enrollment by 3%. Unfortunately, both submissions were unsuccessful. There are close to 1130,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in New York City which would have been targeted by our proposal. In both cases, we were informed that we were unknown to foundations and our staff was too small to be considered. This was a particularly difficult message to receive given both our standing within the Hispanic business community and the stakeholders we had assembled from government, the private sector and the business community. We will continue to be strong advocates for coverage of the uninsured and will seek to educate the foundation community on the merits of engaging Hispanic-led organizations as partners to address these and other health issues impacting Hispanic-led non-profits.
Baquero: I would like to better understand your mission and what work has yet to be achieved.
Zeppenfeldt-Cestero: Our missions focus on developing and mentoring the educational pipeline, identifying a pool of candidates for senior leadership opportunities and advocating for greater diversity in board governance within health care institutions. Similarly, the Chamber?s goal are to both identify business opportunities within the hospital, pharmaceutical, managed care and medical sectors and encourage business owners to cover their employees, and their dependents, in government-sponsored or private sector health plans. AHHE has participated in the Greater New York Hospital Association?s (GNYHA) Summer Enrichment Program, established the Managers Council and formed the Hospital Trustee Council. On the Chamber?s side, working with the GNYHA, we held the region?s first hospital supplier diversity forum in November 2007 and on September 16, 2008, we will be holding our second forum in conjunction with GNYHA and the American College of Healthcare Executives. As we move forward, we look to expanding our reach to other states and fostering our leadership pipeline.
Baquero: At the gala, you will announce a Roundtable on Diversity in Philanthropy. Why do think that this is necessary?
Zeppenfeldt-Cestero: A study by the Greenlining Institute in California conducted a study of foundation giving to minority-lead organizations and found that the top 50 foundations in the country invested only 3% of their dollars in minority-led organizations. In May of this year, Hispanic Business magazine disclosed that a ?disturbing 1.2% of the donations fromnational foundations go to Hispanic nonprofits?. In a follow up analysis by the Greenlining Institute of the top 12 New York based foundations, 8.59% of their New York grants were allocated to minority-led non-profits. Our newly established Roundtable on Diversity in Philanthropy will work towards examining the funding issues, meeting with foundation representatives and elected officials, and developing appropriate strategies to address these disparities which have a major impact on the growth of our organizations.
Baquero: Do you see any progress in diversifying leadership in the healthcare workforce?
Zeppenfeldt-Cestero: It would be easy for me to answer your question with a simple yes or no but, in fact, I need to address this in the context of where we were on this issue three years ago and where we are today. In December 2004, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund issued the report, Condition Critical: The Absence of Latinos Among Policymakers in New York City Voluntary Hospitals. As a result of that report, the GNYHA responded by creating the Task Force on Diversity in Healthcare Leadership, which established a Leadership Academy at Baruch College. They have been proactive in diversifying hospital boards by identifying candidates and being a strong catalyst on supplier diversity. However, the one area which we still need greater advancement is in diversifying senior leadership. We still have few Latinos in senior management both in the private/non-profit and public hospitals.
Baquero: Why is there a strategic partnership between the Association of Hispanic Healthcare Executives (AHHE) and the National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Health (NHCCH)?
Zeppenfeldt-Cestero: As I discussed earlier, AHHE?s mission is two-fold. We are committed to developing the educational pipeline for health care executives and insuring that, with the proper academic background and experience, they will be serious candidates for senior leadership in America?s hospital and health care systems. To accomplish this we have to have both the support of a diverse hospital governance and senior management receptive to mentor our leaders. By leveraging the constituencies of both organizations, we are able to reinforce those dual missions.
Baquero: What issues are impeding the growth of Hispanic-led non-profits?
Zeppenfeldt-Cestero: Funding for capacity building and program development, as with other non-profits, continues to be our greatest challenges. It has prevented us from securing permanent office space and developing a team of interns to mentor.
Baquero: What are you doing to grow your organizations?
Zeppenfeldt-Cestero: We have identified a variety of initiatives for funding. These include a National Hispanic Provider/Employer Roundtable on Health Insurance (Hispanic Health Professional Association Presidents and Hispanic Chamber Presidents), development of our Managers Council, State Delegate Network, and Hospital Trustee Council; support for our Spokesperson for Nurse Recruitment, Pharmaceutical/Hospital Regional Supplier forums and Hispanic Chamber Presidents Regional Health Insurance Legislative summits; and expansion of our Latino Health and Business E-News.
Baquero: Is there anything else you would like to address, closing remarks?
Zeppenfeldt-Cestero: Yes, I would like to thank our sponsors and Affiliate Members for their continued support during these difficult economic times. In particular, I greatly appreciate those hospitals which have continued to nominate a manager to be recognized at our gala. We hope that those hospitals which have decided not to recognize a manager this year, particularly Downstate and Queens Health Network, will re-examine that decision for next year. Our Managers Council, chaired by Andres Nieto of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospitaland Clara Irizzary of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, represent the future governance of AHHE and the new wave of Hispanic C-suite candidates. I also want to acknowledge our National Partners, Prudential Financial, which has literally been a ?Rock? to us, as our most committed and long-lasting supporter, and Aetna, who joined us last year as a National Partner and has provided critical support through the Aetna Foundation to continue our work. Every year we ask our Affiliate Members to renew their affiliate dues and support our gala through non-profit sponsorship. That financial support is the foundation which allows us to develop partnerships, create new communication vehicles, such as our websites and monthly e-news, and address leadership development. Our gala committee, board of directors, and advisory council have been the source of inspiration and motivation to continue our mission. To them and to the many colleagues who have encouraged our work, I am most appreciative. Thank you, Lynda.
Baquero: Well, George, I commend the tenacity of the leadership of your organizations to insure that the vision of AHHE and the Chamber to develop Hispanic leaders in the health care industry is realized, in spite of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Your future plans demonstrate your commitment to turn obstacles into opportunities in order to fulfill your objectives. In collaboration with your partners, may you experience many successes in the coming year.
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