November 19, 2019

Media Contact:

Deidre McCabe, Director, Office of Communications, 410-767-3536 or

Maureen Regan, Deputy Director, Office of Communications, 410-767-8649

Maryland Department of Health to host annual health equity conference to reduce disparities, attain cost savings

Baltimore, MD — The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities (MHHD) today announced its sixteenth annual health equity conference, taking place on Thursday, Dec. 5. The event will educate stakeholders about the action that Maryland is taking to both reduce health disparities and achieve health care cost savings, including implementation of the Maryland Health Model.  

This year’s conference — Achieving Health Equity and Cost Reduction Through Clinical-Community Partnerships  will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Martin’s West, located at 6817 Dogwood Road, Baltimore, MD 21244.

“Community-based organizations are key to tackling the greatest health disparities in our state, including asthma, diabetes and hypertension,” said MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall. “It’s through our invaluable partnerships that we come together to support disease management, to advance health equity and ultimately, to improve the quality of life for all Marylanders.”

According to MHHD, reducing emergency room visits and increasing preventive care will be especially important to benefit minority populations throughout the state who are disproportionately impacted. Key among strategies is implementation of the Maryland Health Model, which is a transformative initiative that incentivizes health care practitioners to improve care delivery and to produce sustainable cost savings in communities statewide.

“Emergency room visits among minority populations are two to four times higher than those for white populations in Maryland,” said MHHD Director Noel Brathwaite. “Because the Maryland Health Model is a patient-centered, coordinated system of health care focused on treating problems before they turn into emergencies, we believe this approach will help improve health outcome disparities.”

The conference will feature leadership awards, vendor exhibits and sessions on topics including community-based initiatives and cost-saving practices, as well as a lineup of speakers including: 

  • MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall 
  • State Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam
  • Executive Director of the Maryland Primary Care Program Dr. Howard Haft
  • Director of Special Projects for Priority Partners Dr. Nkem Okeke
  • Interim Director of the Health Equity Steering Committee for Johns Hopkins Health System Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos

This year’s conference will also recognize keynote speaker Dr. John Ruffin as recipient of the ninth annual Shirley Nathan-Pulliam Health Equity Leadership Award. Dr. Ruffin served as director of the National Institutes of Health National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and has had a long career in advancing health disparities research and education. 

Conference attendees include hospital administrators and staff, health organizations, academic institutions, community advocates and members of the general public. 

For more information about the MHHD, visit

To register for the conference, visit



The Maryland Department of Health is dedicated to protecting and improving the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management and community engagement. Follow us at and​