(pictured above: Dr. Sylvia A. Flack heads the Center of Excellence for the elimination of Health Disparities at Winston-Salem State.)
The “How is Your Heart Project” recently brought together 35 people from neighborhoods, businesses, politics, health care, faith-based organizations and academics to develop methods to support educating healthcare providers on the importance of eliminating health disparities.
Out of that meeting, the group decided to establish an endowed scholarship for nursing students at the master’s degree and doctoral levels at Winston-Salem State University. Recipients would be required to concentrate their studies on some of the most pervasive issues related to the differences in health and access to healthcare in Forsyth County. The scholarship will be named the Dr. Sylvia A. Flack Health Disparity Endowed Scholarship in honor of Flack’s years of work at WSSU to eliminate health disparities. The Project wants to raise $100,000 in order to provide approximately five scholarships each year.
“I am simply tired of seeing premature deaths and disabilities destroy opportunities for people in our community,” - Alvin F. Borders, leader of the project.
According to Flack, the disparities between high rates of disease and early death from obesity, cancer, HIV, diabetes, stroke, sickle cell anemia, infant mortality cardiovascular disease and hypertension are the most serious and preventable health issues facing our nation.
“The rate of disease and death for racial and ethnic minorities and low-income populations has a detrimental effect on families and communities, as well as the productivity and creativity of our workforce,” Flack added. “Our economic, education, healthcare and justice systems are impacted severely by the results of health disparities.”
For the past 25 years, Flack has strived to enhance healthcare provider education, as well as to improve the health of the medically underserved and low-income residents in Forsyth County and North Carolina. During her time at WSSU, she has served as the executive director of the Center of Excellence for the elimination of Health Disparities, a special assistant to the chancellor, dean of the School of Health Sciences and associate dean of nursing.
“I am honored that this community committee has chosen to name this endowment in recognition of my work,” Flack said. “However, it pleases me even more to know that the entire Forsyth County community is stepping forward to get involved in increasing the number of nurses trained to help eliminate health disparities and to increase awareness of the impact of health disparities. I don’t know of another community that has taken such a broad step to improve the health of its people.”
The How Is Your Heart Project community group has already initiated efforts to bring awareness about the differences in health and accessibility to healthcare in Forsyth County, including presenting the play “Dr. BlockHeart Family Practice,” hosting health and health disparities walks and mini conferences at local churches.