Nonprofit is working to reduce health disparities in Oliver

In response to your editorial about programs in Baltimore's Oliver neighborhood, I would like to highlight the efforts of Baltimore HELPS (Healthy Eating Leading Partnerships for Seniors), an initiative being led by Medicare's Quality Improvement Organization in Maryland ("Fixing Oliver," March 13).

As noted in the editorial, there is wide variation in life expectancy in the city. In fact, life expectancy in the Oliver neighborhood is approximately 20 years less than other areas in the city. You also note the alarmingly high rates of hypertension and diabetes in this population.

The editors suggest that if the city were to focus on "laying the groundwork for a long-term investment … the outlook is somewhat brighter."

By convening more than 20 partners in a coalition, including our key constituent, the Baltimore City Health Department, we are engaging stakeholders to actively address the problem of poor health outcomes for Medicare patients with chronic diseases.

Our intent is to match senior citizens' health needs with community resources and educate Oliver's residents about healthy living and managing illness. By focusing on food and nutrition, we are, in your words, "addressing the issues that are working against the neighborhood's revival."

These efforts are being piloted at the Oliver Senior Center and the Oliver Community Center, where they were showcased at Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's Resource Fair on March 17. Each of the programs and resources offered to residents will be sustainable and contribute to a better quality of life.

Through a shared vision and the identification and mobilization of residents, we believe we can improve the health outcomes for this population and we appreciate your recognition of the issues and the need for initiatives like ours.

Fredia S. Wadley, Easton

The writer is CEO of the Delmarva Foundation for Medical Care.

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