Health Promotion Partnership Increases Lupus Awareness and Education for Providers to Addresses Health Disparities

Lupus Patient Speaker and Advocate Hetlena Johnson and Lupus Health Education Intern and Certified Nursing Assistant Jasmine Merritt at Southeastern Regional Chi Eta Phi Nursing Sorority, Inc. Conference at Westin Buckhead in Atlanta, GA.

DHPE Assistant Health Equity Director and Lupus Health Education Program Director Thometta Cozart, MS, MPH and Lupus Health Education Intern and Certified Nursing Assistant Jasmine Merritt at Southeastern Regional Chi Eta Phi Nursing Sorority, Inc. Conference at Westin Buckhead in Atlanta, GA

The Directors of Health Promotion & Education (DHPE) has partnered with Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc., a national sorority of registered professional nurses and nursing students in efforts to increase lupus education and awareness among healthcare providers. Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease with no cure that can damage any part of the body, including skin, joints and organs. Current research shows that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus, per the Lupus Foundation of America. Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians.

“With the average diagnosis timeframe being 4 to 6 years, lupus patients need more health care providers to know and recognize the signs and symptoms of lupus to decrease the diagnosis timeframe and help lupus patients have better health outcomes,” said DHPE Lupus Education and Awareness for Patients, Professionals and Providers (LEAP) Program Director Thometta Cozart, MS, MPH, CHES, CPH.

According to the American College of Rheumatology, lupus patients see at least three providers, including nurses, before receiving an accurate lupus diagnosis. Lupus educational sessions featuring rheumatologists, lupus researchers and lupus patients will be coordinated by DHPE LEAP and hosted at the regional meetings of Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc. to educate more nurses on the signs and symptoms of lupus for more accurate diagnosis.

“Lupus is a difficult disease to diagnosis and this partnership with the DHPE LEAP will ensure our professional nurse membership is better prepared to address lupus health disparities, such as late diagnosis among women of color that may lead to organ failure and premature death,” said Chi Eta Phi National Vice President Priscilla J. Murphy LPCMH, MEd, BSN, RN, and owner of Nylex Educational & Counseling Services, Inc.

Lupus educational sessions featuring the signs and symptoms of lupus; the descriptive epidemiological assessment of the disease; case studies and the patient-provider perspective will be offered at the following regional Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc. meetings:

 * Southeast Region -Atlanta, GA – March 18th – Featuring Morehouse School of Medicine Clinical Director and Lupus Researcher Dr. Priscilla Pemu and Lupus Patient Advocate Hetlena Johnson, Chief Volunteer Officer of South Carolina Community Partner, an affiliate of the Lupus Foundation of America, Inc.

* Middlesouth Region – Fort Worth, TX – March 31st – Featuring Dr. Priscilla Pemu and Hetlena Johnson

* Northeast Region – Baltimore, MD – April 19th – Featuring Rheumatologist Dr. Jeffrey Potter and Hetlena Johnson

* Southwest Region – Las Vegas, NV – May 5th – Featuring Rheumatologist Dr. Irene Blanco and Hetlena Johnson

Established in October 16, 1932, Chi Eta Phi has more than 8,000 sorority members in graduate and undergraduate chapters grouped into five regions based on geographic areas. The chapters are located throughout the United States, District of Columbia, St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Island and Liberia, West Africa. The Sorority has programs focusing on health promotion/disease prevention, leadership development, mentoring, recruitment and retention and scholarships.

The partnership is part of the DHPE LEAP Program, which is funded by the national Office of Minority Health, US Department of Health and Human Services. The program targets women of color who are at an increased risk for lupus, as well as educating public health professionals and primary care providers of the signs and symptoms of lupus. The LEAP Program also has national partnerships with the National Medical Association and the National Black Nurses Association.

For more information contact LEAP Project Director Thometta Cozart attcozart@dhpe.org and visit the program website at www.bit.ly/dhpelupus.

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