Hispanic Center of Excellence

Local Officials Call For Federal Funding to be RESTORED For Einstein's Hispanic Center of Exellence

For Immediate Release
Contact:Rohit Mahajan 202-225-3965

Aug. 24, 2006 rohit.mahajan@mail.house.gov 


Future of Minority Educational Resource Is Threatened by Spending Cuts 

The Bronx, NY - US Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-Queens & the Bronx), chief deputy whip, today was joined by New York Councilwoman Annabel Palma and Dr. Hal Strelnick of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in demanding federal funds be restored to the college's Hispanic Center of Excellence. ?Drastic cuts in federal funding threaten to close the Hispanic Center of Excellence next year. 

Over the last two fiscal years, Congress has severely cut funding for the Centers of Excellence grant program, effectively zeroing out almost all federal money available to majority of institutions, including Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Hispanic Center of Excellence in the Morris Park section of the Bronx.? Rep. Crowley has led efforts in Congress to restore funding for the Centers of Excellence program by authoring letters co-signed by House colleagues in support to both the leadership of the House Appropriations Committee and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. 

"The clock is ticking for the future of the Hispanic Center of Excellence, and Congress and the Administration need to act before this innovative program that has broken new ground in community health care is forever lost," Congressman Crowley said. "The Hispanic Center of Excellence at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine is a vital component in improving health care for under represented and under served minority communities.? It also has provided minority students with the opportunity of realizing their dreams of becoming doctors, often returning to practice medicine in the communities of their origin.? By shutting down this program, Congress would effectively dim the lights not only students receiving an education, but also on the under-served communities in New York that will only continue to struggle for better health care." 

Dr. Hal Strelnick, the director of the Hispanic Center of Excellence at Einstein College of Medicine said, "When the Census Bureau has told us that Hispanics are widening their lead as the nation's largest minority group and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has told us that health disparities are worsening for Hispanics, it makes absolutely no sense to eliminate the only federal program explicitly designed to recruit and train Hispanic health professionals.? ?I would like to thank Congressman Joseph Crowley for his consistent, hard work in support of the Centers of Excellence program." 

Councilwoman Palma said, "As a former Certified Nurse's Assistant, I am personally acquainted with all the shortcomings of the healthcare system in this city and country brought on by lack of funding.? It is astounding to me that just three years after Centers for Excellence was created to help address the crisis our community faces today, that the Bush Administration would even consider of discontinuing this program, particularly in light of the recent reports of how our nation's health institutions have been forced to turn away students because of lack of funding. These programs are essential for the health of the constituents I represent.? I am committed to mobilizing the community to prevent loss of such fundamental program. We cannot allow the federal government to continue to pull the sheets out from under those in our community who are most in need." 

Recently, Congressman Crowley, along with 50 Members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services, Michael Leavitt, and Administrator Elizabeth Duke of the Health and Resources Services Administration asking for a 12-month, no-cost extension of grants for the Centers of Excellence.? While the Centers of Excellence did not receive a full 12-month extension, Administrator Duke did grant the Centers a nine-month extension allowing these vital programs to run until May of 2007.??While the time is still too short to find alternative funds, Congressman Crowley hopes for more funding to be allotted in the FY2007 Labor-Health and Human Services Appropriations bill scheduled taken up in the House of Representatives in November. 

The Hispanic Center of Excellence is a seven- part program dealing with (1) improved student performance, (2) faculty development, (3) Information Resources, (4) faculty and student research, (5) student training, (6) a competitive applicant pool and (7) cultural competency. In addition to an emphasis on recruiting Hispanics for careers in medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine has created a curriculum addressing the unique needs of providing medical care to the Latino community. 

Nationwide, of the 34 institutions that receive Centers of Excellence grants, only four will receive full funding for this year.? The Centers of Excellence grant program promotes diversity in the health care field by recruiting minority students into medical schools, and providing stipends and fellowships.? In addition, the program is also a resource for future health care professionals who will work in facilities that serve minority communities by providing educational background on health issues related to treating minorities. ?Grants are awarded to colleges and higher education institutions on a three-year basis and are administered through the Department of Health and Humans Services. 

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