“Aetna Day” panel discussion examines health care disparities.

AETNA DayHow to best address inequities in the availability of quality health care remains one of the more pressing aspects of our country’s health care dilemma.

On November 15, 2007, concerned students, faculty, and staff joined representatives from the health care community in the Ocean Bank Auditorium in the new College of Business Administration Complex to hear experts shed light on dissimilarities in health care coverage and availability in the United States.

The panel discussion provided the cornerstone event for the first Florida International University “Aetna Day,” hosted by the college and sponsored by Aetna, one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies.

“Addressing racial and ethnic disparities is one of the most important challenges facing tomorrow’s health care leaders,” said Aetna’s Orlando Mendoza, vice president of strategic market development for Miami. “Aetna hopes to engage the university’s students in helping us meet that challenge.”

The panel included Valerie Beckles, Aetna South Florida medical director; Julie Zaharatos, health analyst, Health Council of South Florida; and Thinh H. Tran, corporate vice president and chief quality and patient safety officer, Baptist Health, South Florida. James Patrick O’Leary, executive associate dean of clinical affairs in the university’s College of Medicine, served as panel moderator.

AETNA Day at FIUAccording to James R. Bussey, chief of staff, Executive Dean’s Office, both the panelists’ presentations and the question-and-answer session that followed them successfully blended different perspectives to offer valuable insights into the challenges surrounding health care costs and availability.

“O’Leary provided the glue that kept the discussion focused, relevant, and cohesive,” he said.

Event provides students with opportunity to learn more about Aetna.

Following the morning’s continental breakfast and panel, representatives from Aetna remained on campus, holding student information and recruiting sessions throughout the afternoon.

“We are delighted that Aetna spent the day on our campus and brought us this quality program on a topic important to people of all ages in our country—health care availability,” said Joyce J. Elam, executive dean. “We also are glad that they engaged our students in this important subject and in working toward solutions to what many are calling a national health care crisis.”

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