Williams & Associates, Incorporated was founded in October 2002 by Erise Williams, Jr., President/CEO (former founding Executive Director of Blacks Assisting Blacks Against AIDS (BABAA -1990-2002) ; and James E. Green, Director of Operations. The vision of the agency is zero percent disparity and one hundred percent access in the areas of health and healthcare services for minority populations within the St. Louis Metropolitan Region. The agency’s history is grounded in the passion and commitment displayed by our founder, Erise Williams, Jr., After working in the HIV/AIDS arena for more than 10 years, it became clear to him, that one could not address an epidemic like AIDS without addressing other critical health issues, and social determinants of health. Thus the birth of Williams & Associates, Incorporated, and a non-profit minority community based agency addressing minority health disparities.
The alarm has sounded regarding the health disparities that have plagued the St. Louis region for decades. Those of us in public health are clear that the poor health outcomes among the region’s medically indigent population and a deteriorating health care safety net have prompted a variety of responses over the decades toward addressing these concerns. We at Williams & Associates, Incorporated are committed to continuing the sounding of the alarm on racial and ethnic health disparities until, as a region, we can report that the health and health outcomes of minorities in the St. Louis region have dramatically improved. While the demographics of the St. Louis region have changed over the past decade (2000-2010), according to census data, in total, about 30% of the St. Louis regional population of 1.32 million people is African American (385,116). Almost half (48%; 152,068) of City residents are African American. In St. Louis County, more than 1 in 5 residents is African American (23%; 233,048). According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the mortality rate for African Americans in the St. Louis region is 45% higher than for whites; many of the ailments that result in high rates of African American deaths are from preventable diseases, e.g., Diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Cardio-Vascular Disease, and some forms of Cancer.
Like African Americans, the Hispanic population is largely concentrated in the urban areas of the state Kansas City/Jackson County with the largest cluster of Hispanic individuals; 29 percent in KC, and 11 percent in St. Louis County. Health disparities affecting Missouri’s Hispanic population are less well understood than those for African Americans. While Hispanics come from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures, as a group they face many barriers to achieving positive health outcomes in today’s society. According to the Kaiser Family foundation, “Restrictions on SCHIP Enrollment Affecting Hispanics in Missouri, Hispanics are less likely than either non-Hispanic whites or African Americans to have insurance coverage for their health care needs, as evidenced by the percent of emergency room visits where the pay source was self-pay or no charge.”
Our history of addressing health issues that impact these, and other populations, is driven by leadership involvement with such coalitions and groups as the National Minority AIDS Council, The Center for Black Equity, and our partnerships and collaborations with several state and local health organizations and groups that share our vision of zero percent disparities, one hundred percent access. As our history undergoes its constant change, as history does, one thing remains constant, our efforts are centered on “Our Community, Our Health.”