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  • The Narrative Project

ConnCORP & Beta Tau Boule of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity Launch Health Equity Initiative

Updated: Apr 14, 2021


April 12, 2021 Mercy A. Quaye 203.913.5008


Initiative Takes Aim at Health Disparities, Vaccine Hesitancy, and Lack of Trust in the Healthcare System


New Haven, CT - ConnCORP and the Beta Tau Boule of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity announced today their partnership to tackle health disparities and improve the health and wellness of Black communities in New Haven. The ConnCORP and Beta Tau Health Equity Initiative (CBT) is beginning this effort by launching a statewide study to identify the root causes of mistrust in the healthcare system among communities of color and support improvements to healthcare providers’ policies and practices. Through this initiative, CBT is committed to working with community members to compile stories and feedback to help show how the healthcare system can become more accessible and work more effectively for our state’s most vulnerable communities. With what is learned from the community responses to the survey, CBT will be creating a pocket resource guide for physicians and healthcare providers to improve their quality of care. “This is a collaborative effort in the purest form. With the combined investment from the fraternity and ConnCORP, we’re certain that we can be a resource to the community as well as physicians,” said Carlton Highsmith, ConnCORP board chair and Beta Tau Social Action Committee chair. “We need the broadest participation possible in order to highlight and showcase the experiences of Black and Brown communities with the healthcare system. Together we can create real change and help close the gaps in health disparities that have plagued our communities.” Participation in the survey is critical as the answers gathered will be used to equip physicians with best practices to provide high-quality, culturally responsive care to communities of color. CBT collaborated with nearly a dozen Black physicians throughout the region to develop the 15-minute survey. Through a number of focus groups, the coalition of physicians provided culturally sensitive insight and devised questions that respondents answered to reveal their concerns and physicians can use to immediately implement best practices. Dr. Gary Desir, Chief of Internal Medicine at Yale-New Haven Hospital, supported the creation of the survey and intends to use the data collected to inform his work. "We know that the social determinants of health for Black and Brown communities are rooted in a history of discrimination and racism and are important factors to consider in understanding health disparities," Dr. Desir said. "This initiative is positioned to support communities with understanding how to navigate this health crisis while simultaneously working to educate and increase engagement and trust in the healthcare system. In developing the survey, we were sensitive to historical concerns while working to ensure the community was able to provide unfiltered feedback to help healthcare providers improve their practices to be responsive to community needs. The insight we expect to receive from communities will go a long way towards educating physicians and ensuring that Black and Brown communities feel safe and empowered to navigate the healthcare system." In addition to the survey, the CBT Health Equity Initiative is planning a number of COVID-19 vaccination drives in partnership with Cornell Scott Health Center and a virtual event to address community concerns on vaccine hesitancy. The first of the vaccination drives are planned for Saturday, May 1, 2021, and will be hosted at ConnCAT’s headquarters, located at 4 Science Park in New Haven. “This is an ambitious endeavor to empower our communities with the knowledge necessary to live healthier, happier lives,” said Erik Clemons, Executive Chairman of ConnCORP. “The combined impact of historical evidence and a lack of knowledge has led to the understandable hesitancy in our communities when it comes to vaccines and healthcare in general. That’s why we’re working directly with the community to answer their questions and meet their needs.” For more information, visit

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ConnCORP seeks to drive economic development in the Dixwell and Newhallville sections of New Haven by investing in local commercial and residential real estate. The objective is to deliver well-planned multi-use real estate investment, which can help stabilize the local economy, provide affordable goods and services, and create local jobs.

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