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Statement from Dwight Tillery, CEO of Center for Closing the Health

Gap
More than nine years ago, an ordinance was brought before Cincinnati City
Council that would have authorized the Board of Health to apply for and
accept a grant from the Ohio Commission on Minority Health for the purpose
of funding a local office of Minority Health to address Health Disparities
within the Cincinnati Health Department. It was a two-year grant requiring
the city to contribute some matching funds both years. The total grant was
$200,000 a year with no guarantee that the grants would continue beyond
those two years. Furthermore, Dr. Malcolm Adcock, Health Commissioner at
that time, asked me to attend a meeting with the Director of the Ohio
Commission on Minority Health who wanted to see if the Health Department
was interested in such a grant prior to its statewide role out. Dr. Adcock told
her that the city had such a Center and saw no need for duplicating an office
here.

At the time, the Center for Closing the Health Gap had been in existence for
four years, created in 2004 as part of a settlement between the City of
Cincinnati and the former Health Alliance to address racial and ethnic health
disparities in the city. Dr. Adcock negotiated the settlement with the Health
Alliance and wanted the Center to be created under the settlement. In the
years since its founding, the Health Gap had secured millions of dollars in
private funding from Cincinnati's largest healthcare providers, including
Christ Hospital, TriHealth, UC Health and Mercy Health. The Health Gap had
fully developed programs and services engrained in neighborhoods
throughout the city.

When the local office of Minority Health was proposed, the City and
Cincinnati's healthcare community viewed it as a duplication of services and
programs already being well covered by the Health Gap. City Council
members were opposed to the duplicative spending as it would require
additional funding from the city to secure the grant. Some of the local
hospitals who were not part of the lawsuit settlement but supported the
Health Gap indicated that they may pull out should the local office be
approved - jeopardizing the significant positive momentum of the Health Gap
built over four years of operation.

As such, the measure was denied by City Council by a unanimous vote of 9-


0. At the time, the Health Gap was doing more in the area of minority health
than the proposed office could have possibly achieved, given the small grant
dollars at stake. For its part, our team at the Health Gap continued to
address the complex and severe health disparities that plagued (and
continue to plague) Cincinnati's most vulnerable populations. The Health
Gap has gone on to be recognized around the nation as a model for other
cities. The decision in 2008 was the right one and the nearly decade since
has proven that out. Our work has helped tens of thousands of people in the
City and our partnerships with Cincinnati's healthcare community has never
been stronger.