Media Advisory: City residents to dine with medical students, faculty at UB to discuss health care

The dinner is an outgrowth of efforts to address ‘distrust and misunderstanding’ between medical providers and community members

Release Date: September 6, 2018

Linda Pessar.
“The fact that we’ve had so much interest in this says that it's time for the coming together of the medical school and the community. It’s the beginning of a movement. ”
Linda F. Pessar, MD, Director, Center for Medical Humanities
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Seventy students, medical residents and faculty members from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo will dine with dozens of community members on Thursday, Sept. 6. The goal is for students and physicians to gain a better understanding of how Buffalo’s residents experience health care and what their concerns are.


From UB:

  • Linda F. Pessar, MD, director of the Center for Medical Humanities of the Jacobs School.
  • Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School, will make opening remarks.
  • Henry Louis Taylor, Jr., professor of urban and regional planning, UB School of Architecture and Planning.

From the community:

  • Pastor Kinzer Pointer of Agape Baptist Church on the East side.
  • Pastor Alan Core of First Centennial Baptist Church in the Fruit Belt​.
  • Wil Green, Community Schools East Side Zone Leader of Say Yes To Education.

Where and when: 6-8 p.m. on Sept. 6 in the Sol Messinger Active Learning Center, Room 1220 in the Jacobs School, 955 Main St., Buffalo. Dinner will be catered by EM Tea Coffee Cup based in the Hamlin Park neighborhood.

On-site media contact: Ellen Goldbaum, 716-771-9255

The idea for the dinner grew out of several initiatives, including the Health in the Neighborhood course offered last year by the Jacobs School’s Center for Medical Humanities, which is sponsoring the dinner. The center focuses on the psychological, social, cultural and economic forces that influence the practice of medicine and the doctor-patient relationship, especially the social determinants of health and the health disparities between white Americans and people of color.

“The health outcomes between black and white Americans are shockingly disparate for many complex reasons,” said Pessar. “At least a component of it is this distrust and misunderstanding between black Americans and their physicians. A proportion of black Americans don’t trust doctors; they don’t feel we work for their benefit. An example is the belief that doctors are paid by the prescription.”

The Health in the Neighborhood course paired students with families in the community so that students could better understand their lives, their community and especially, their experiences with the health care system.

“The medical students and the people in the community sat down together and as people of goodwill were able to talk to one another and begin to trust one another,” said Pessar. “Eventually, they were able to negotiate some really good ideas about how to improve health care.”

Developed by UB faculty in partnership with Pastor Dennis Lee of Hopewell Baptist Church and Pastor Kinzer Pointer of Agape Baptist Church, the course had begun to make a real difference in the perceptions of both students and community members. Pessar thought: “Why leave this at Hopewell? Let’s open it up and see if we can begin this dialogue in a larger group.”

Overwhelming interest

There was obviously a hunger for it.

“To my astonishment, when I sent this out to the med school listserv, there was overwhelming interest,” said Pessar. Within days, the event reached its maximum capacity for medical students and providers.

Pessar attributed the interest to the growing realization that the medical community needs to better understand the communities it serves.

“We simply have to come to understand the lives and needs of our diverse population if we are going to do what we came into medicine to do, which is to treat well the needs of the people we serve,” she said.

While the efforts of the Center for Medical Humanities began long before the Jacobs School relocated to its new downtown home, she thinks that the school’s new location has provided an even stronger impetus for the increased interest in addressing health care disparities.

“The fact that we’ve had so much interest in this says that it's time for the coming together of the medical school and the community,” she said, adding, “It’s the beginning of a movement.”

Media Contact Information

Ellen Goldbaum
News Content Manager
Tel: 716-645-4605
Twitter: @UBmednews