Experts Come Together to Improve Healthcare for People with Intellectual Disabilities, Advance Inclusive Health Policy Agenda

Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018

NEW YORK CITY, NY — Special Olympics New York and the Golisano Foundation brought together healthcare experts from across the country this weekend in New York City to advance an inclusive health agenda and build on work to improve healthcare for people with intellectual abilities. The summit was also sponsored by Henry Schein Cares Foundation and Project Accessible Oral Health.

Special Olympics is the world’s largest global public health organization for people with intellectual disabilities, who are two times more likely to die before age 50 than adults without intellectual disabilities. They die from problems that are preventable and treatable because they are excluded from most health care systems.

As a first step in improving access, partners in attendance agreed to work together to establish New York State as a Special Olympics Healthy Community. Achieving this designation will require diverse healthcare providers throughout the city to collectively meet rigorous criteria that will ensure year-round access to quality health care for people with intellectual disabilities including the city’s more than 41,000 Special Olympics New York athletes.

Special Olympics is on the path to establishing 100 Healthy Communities by 2020 where: people with intellectual disabilities have broad access to quality healthcare; prevention education and programming is available and adapted; healthcare professionals are trained and providing services to people with intellectual disabilities; and this population is fully integrated into existing healthcare systems.

“More than 200 million people worldwide have an intellectual disability,” said Special Olympics New York President and CEO Stacey Hengsterman. “This population experiences dramatically higher rates of obesity and preventable disease as well as chronic pain and suffering, and premature death. And yet, they are one of the most underserved in terms of quality healthcare. In New York and across the country, Special Olympics and the Golisano Foundation are teaming up to change the game. Thank you to all of our partners who have agreed to take this important work to the next level and position New York as a leader in inclusive health.”

“We applaud New York City and Special Olympics NY,” said Golisano Foundation Executive Director Ann Costello, “for taking on the challenge to break down the barriers to heath care and forge the necessary partnerships that will open the doors to health care for people with intellectual disabilities. We are making tremendous progress around the world. And much of those improvements started at the local level with local people who care about assuring that people with disabilities are treated with dignity and respect and can participate in all aspects of life. To do that, they need to be healthy.”

“Henry Schein has long championed the need for a broader model of integrated primary care in order to achieve better patient outcomes at reduced costs,” said David Kochman, Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the CEO at Henry Schein, Inc. “By convening constituent stakeholders through public-private partnerships around important issues – here, advancing a more equitable health care system – we can catalyze change for the benefit of the health care profession, patients, and society.  We are privileged to partner with Special Olympics New York, the Golisano Foundation, and other stakeholders in the medical and dental professions dedicated to eliminating health disparities improve access to care for people with disabilities.”

“Project Accessible Oral Health is honored to be a partner in hosting of this very important meeting,” said Executive Director of Project Accessible Oral Health Barbie Vartanian. “As a convener and catalyst for change, this summit is exactly what we as an organization are all about.  Bringing the right people together to improve the health equity for individuals with disabilities. Continued awareness of the issue is critical; ensuring policy makers, educators and insurance payers are not only aware of the gaps, but acting swiftly to identify ways in which equal access and care are promoted and supported. The time is now!”

The summit was attended by leaders of area hospitals, medical centers, universities and industry as well as local and national experts in fields such as optometry, dentistry, a general medicine who treat people with intellectual disabilities.

Following the summit, Special Olympics New York Clinical Director Dr. Abrahim Caroci was presented with the 2018 Golisano Health Leadership Award — the highest regional honor for Special Olympics health partners — at the organization’s signature Floor Hockey Tournament held Saturday at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City.




About Special Olympics New York

Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving nearly 68,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with nearly 150 schools statewide to offer unified sports. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers.  Learn more at www.specialolympicsNY.org and #SpecialOlympicsNY.

About the Golisano Foundation
The Golisano Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the nation devoted exclusively to opening doors to opportunity, changing negative perceptions and stereotypes, and forging unprecedented partnerships to ensure individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have pathways to personal dignity, independence and the best possible expression of their abilities and talents throughout their lifetimes. The foundation was founded in 1985 by Tom Golisano, entrepreneur, civic leader, philanthropist and the founder and Chairman of Paychex. Mr. Golisano’s philanthropy now exceeds $300 million. In addition to Mr. Golisano’s personal philanthropy, the Golisano Foundation awards about $2 million annually to non-profit organizations serving people with intellectual disabilities in Western NY and New York’s Finger Lakes Region and Southwest Florida. GolisanoFoundation.org.

Robyn Armando, Vice President Marketing & Communications, (518) 588-3459, rarmando@nyso.org