Rollins Center for Health Innovation Addresses Health Equity

National public health leader Adewale Troutman poses the question, "What if we were equal when it comes to healthcare?”

Left to right: Adewale Troutman, Director of the Center for Health Innovation Chet Evans, Dean David C.S. Richard Left to right: Adewale Troutman, Director of the Center for Health Innovation Chet Evans, Dean David C.S. Richard

The Rollins College Center for Health Innovation (CHI) kicked off its inaugural Heath Forum Series with Adewale Troutman, former president of the American Public Health Association. Troutman presented a public lecture titled “How Eliminating Health Disparities Can Help Cure Our Nation’s Healthcare Ills.” Held at the College’s Bush Auditorium, the event was attended by over 200 Rollins students, faculty, staff, and community residents.

Selected as a Thomas P. Johnson Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Rollins, Troutman has established a long-held commitment to social justice, human rights, community activism, and national and global health. For over 40 years, he has upheld the principles of universal freedoms and the elimination of racism, injustice, and oppression. During the lecture, Troutman posed the question “What if we were equal?” as it pertains to social and moral issues such as healthcare. He discussed how creating a more diverse population of healthcare professionals will help eliminate disparities, improving the nation’s overall health outlook.

Troutman expects the Affordable Care Act will significantly improve the health profile of the U.S. In a 2009 study, the American Journal of Public Health estimated that nearly 45,000 deaths a year were attributable to a lack of health care insurance in the United States. He believes that access to health care insurance made available through the act will lead to a reduction in mortality in the U.S. as well as provide increased emphasis on prevention, leading to healthier lifestyles and reducing the incidence of many chronic diseases.

“In order to reduce the gap in health disparities, we have to look beyond the medical model,” Troutman said. “The gap in mortality rates between minority populations and the white population is linked to social determinates, including level of education, poverty, early childhood development, drug addiction, housing, and many more.”

He added, “Moreover, an Institute of Medicine report from 2002 indicated that the black and white mortality gap there is [an insurance] provider attitude, whether it’s conscious or unconscious racism and/or whether it’s institutionalized racism that, in fact, dictates the kind of care that an individual is going to get. There’s good evidence to show that there are, in fact, poorer health outcomes based upon the kinds of referrals that are given to individuals.”

Currently serving as a professor of public health and the associate dean for health equity and community engagement at the University of South Florida, Troutman earned an MD from New Jersey Medical School, a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University, and a master’s degree in black studies from the State University of New York in Albany. He is also board certified by the National Board of Public Health Examiners. He served as an associate professor in the University of Louisville’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences while directing the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. 

Troutman’s experience includes special consultancies with the World Health Organization in Thailand and Japan; health assessment missions in Angola, Jamaica, and Zaire; and training in India and Austria. His commitment to justice includes nationally recognized efforts such as the founding of the first Center for Health Equity and the creating of the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Movement in Louisville, Kentucky. Troutman is also credited with the passage of one of the strongest anti-smoking ordinances in the country.

The lecture, presented in collaboration with the Rollins Africa & African-American studies program and global health minor, is the first in a series of national forums on health topics. These forums aim to help identify solutions to healthcare problems and prepare the next generation of healthcare management professionals for leadership positions. December’s forum will address the epidemics of diabetes and obesity.