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Health

URMC awards highlight need to reduce racial disparities and prevent violence

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Dr. Eugenia C. South, physician at Penn Medicine and assistant professor of Emergency Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Urban gun violence disproportionately affects segregated Black neighborhoods is one of the main points that a physician and assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania want to get across.

Dr. Eugenia South, a physician at Penn Medicine was a keynote speaker Thursday at the annual Dr. David Satcher Community Health Improvement Awards, presented by the Center for Community Health & Prevention at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

During her talk, South discussed the root causes of urban gun violence in many cities, including Rochester. She said those incidents are often tied to structural racism.

“There is this link between structural, historical and structural ongoing aspects of racism that determine the amount of investment that goes into neighborhoods and something like gun violence, which again, I think is a symptom of a lack of investment," South explained at the virtual event.

South also said that something as simple as turning vacant land into clean, green spaces can foster a healthier situation that can reduce stress and even lower violence.

“Simple, low-cost structural changes to neighborhood environments improves health and safety. In order to do that we need to invest money into these neighborhood improvements,” South said.

Created in 2010, the awards reflect a mission to expand university-community partnerships that support participatory research and interventions to reduce health inequalities and improve the community’s health.

Dr. Nancy Bennett, director of the Center for Community Health & Prevention, said that the nation and the world “have faced tremendous challenges that have highlighted the magnitude of health disparities and the irrefutable need for a strong public health infrastructure.”

Three URMC faculty members were recognized for their contributions to improving health in the Greater Rochester region. They include:

Dr. Laura Jean Shipley, professor of clinical pediatrics, vice chair for population and behavioral health in the department of pediatrics and associate medical director for maternal child health at Accountable Health Partners.

Dr. Jeffrey Kaczorowski, professor and vice chair for community and government affairs in the department of pediatrics. 

Dr. Angela Branche, who is an assistant professor at the University of Rochester, School of Medicine.