The Rapides Foundation’s seventh annual Symposium will be held Tuesday, September 1, from 3-4:30 p.m. and will be presented in a virtual format for the first time. The Symposium will focus on how community health status can be improved by addressing behavioral and social determinants of health. Featured speaker Regina Benjamin, M.D., who served as U.S. Surgeon General from 2009-2013, will present “Combating Health Disparities: Narrowing the Gap.”
Each year the Foundation presents the Symposium as a way to gather around a topic of importance and to recognize the creation of The Rapides Foundation on September 1, 1994. The 2020 live event will be presented on the Zoom webinar platform, and is free and open to the public. Registration is required and can be completed by visiting www.rapidesfoundation.org/symposium.
Dr. Benjamin has spent her career seeing the impact of healthcare disparities and the determinants of health on several generations of patients in her community. As Surgeon General and founder/CEO of the Bayou Clinic and its partner organization, the Gulf States Health Policy Center in rural Alabama, she has been the driving force behind research and policies to promote equity and access. Taking a public and population health perspective, Dr. Benjamin reviews the range of social determinants, and explores practices and policies that will narrow the health gap.
“Early in our history, one of the largest movements we made in advancing the grantmaking of The Rapides Foundation was when we became aware of the impact of behavioral and social determinants on health status,” said Joe Rosier, president and CEO of The Rapides Foundation. “We recognized we must address the risk factors and underlying causes which impact community health status, and that a broader definition of health must include a breadth of health factors rather than strictly the absence of disease.”
The mission of The Rapides Foundation is to improve the health status of Central Louisiana, and over its 26-year history the Foundation has sought to support that mission by developing initiatives and strategies intended to impact the region for decades to come.
The Foundation focuses its work in three strategic areas: Healthy People, to improve access to healthcare and to promote healthy behaviors; Education, to increase the level of educational attainment and achievement as the primary path to improved economic, social and health status; and Healthy Communities, to improve economic opportunity and family income, and enhance civic and community opportunities for more effective leaders and organizations.
Since the Foundation’s creation in 1994, it has disbursed more than $230 million in grants. The Rapides Foundation serves a nine-parish area in Central Louisiana consisting of Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn parishes.