Open Talks Health Conference

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2019 Theme:  Health Equity

Open Talks Health Conference is a component of our community health education initiative to provide year-round comprehensive health care training for clinicians, patients and consumers. Held annually in the fall, the conference provides CE approved sessions for nurses, social workers, LPC, LAC, CAC, RAC, CIT, students and other health care professionals on various disease states affecting the residents of Baton Rouge.

Our conference theme this year is health equity and will include three tracks focused on Aging, Women’s Health and LGBTQ.


  1. Provide awareness and education on health equity as it relates to the aging, women’s health and LGBTQ populations.

  2. Provide awareness with the current best practices and effective models in the delivery of care for the aging, women’s health and LGBTQ populations.




PRICING: $75 Licensed Professionals/$40 Unlicensed Professionals


Friday, October 18

8:30AM - Keynote

Duane Reynolds, President & CEO, Institute for Diversity and Health Equity

Duane Reynolds, President & CEO, Institute for Diversity and Health Equity

The Health Equity Imperative: Best Practice Strategies for Improving Care in Vulnerable Patient Populations, Duane Reynolds, MHA, President and CEO, Institute for Diversity and Health Equity and Vice-President of the American Hospital Association (1 General CEU for social workers, 1 CNE, 1 clock hour for LPC)

The American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Institute for Diversity and Health Equity (IFDHE) serves as a trusted partner for hospitals and health systems by providing knowledge, resources and thought leadership to advance inclusive cultures, increase diversity in health care C-suites, and achieve equity in health care and health in America.  Nearly half of America’s cities are now majority non-white, and the demographics throughout the nation continue to change requiring a fundamental re-framing of the patient, consumer and employee experience within health care organizations. These changes occur as racial, ethnic and cultural inequities – including in health outcomes – remain a reality for far too many. Duane Reynolds, President and CEO of the Institute for Diversity and Health Equity and Vice President within the American Hospital Association will discuss the need for nurses and other clinicians to be prepared to care for increasingly diverse communities, including the elderly, women and LGBTQI persons, so that everyone has an opportunity to live a healthy life regardless of background or Zip Code. 

The IFDHE, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit and affiliate of the American Hospital Association, is committed to providing resources and subject-matter expertise for hospitals and health systems to meet these needs.

9:45AM-10:45AM - General Session 1

Women's Track:  Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners – Providing a Victim Centered Approach, Beau Clark, MD and Mendy Escudier, RN, BSN, SANE, EBR Parish Coroner’s Office (1 General CEU for social workers, 1 CNE, 1 clock hour for LPC)

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) programs have made a profound difference in the quality of care provided to victims of interpersonal violence. SANEs offer victims prompt, compassionate care and comprehensive forensic evidence collection. In addition to their role as evidence collectors, SANEs help to preserve the victim’s dignity and reduce their psychological trauma. This workshop will discuss the role of SANEs and provide a better understanding of the forensic medical examination to assist health care professionals in the care of patients that have experienced this type of trauma.

Aging Track:  HIV and Aging: Challenges and Opportunities, Tavell Kindall, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, AAHIVS, South Central AIDS Education Training Center (1 Clinical CEU for social workers, 1 CNE, 1 clock hour for LPC)

There are a number of risk factors that contribute to HIV incidence and prevalence. Among them are a lack of knowledge and awareness of the HIV/AIDS risks and infection statistics, comorbidities, and negative health consequences relative to late diagnosis among older adults. There has been recent acquisition of knowledge about HIV and aging, but the reality is much about this topic remains unknown. This session will provide participants an overview of challenges and opportunities about the current statistics, epidemiologic drivers, and strategies that facilitate success in helping to prevent HIV infection, reduce new cases, identify infections sooner, and maintain the overall health and well-being of older adults living with HIV/AIDS.

LGBTQ Track:  Culturally Competent Practice with LGBTQ+ People, Jena Ourso, LCSW, Open Health Care Clinic (1 Ethical CEU for social workers, 1 CNE, 1 clock hour for LPC)

LGBTQ+ individuals historically faced and currently face unique challenges in our society. The LGBTQ+ community currently experiences poorer physical and mental health outcomes than that of their heterosexual counterparts. This presentation will provide information on LGBTQ+ history, barriers for LGBTQ+ individuals, and obligations for social workers in providing culturally competent care for LGBTQ+ individuals. This session aims to foster a better understanding of how to interact respectfully and sensitively with LGBTQ clients and provide culturally competent care.

11:00AM-12:00PM - General Session 2

Conference Video

Women's Track:  Disparities in Women's Mental Health, Bridget Sonnier, PhD., Private Practice (1 Clinical CEU for social workers, 1 CNE, 1 clock hour for LPC)

Prevalence rates of psychological disorders are unevenly distributed between women and men, particularly depression, which is a major cause of disability worldwide. Disparities are also observed within minority groups, particularly African American women. This presentation will discuss these psychological disorders, the contributing factors to explain the disparities, and evidence-based approaches to close the gaps.  

Aging Track:  Understanding Disparities and Promoting Health Equity in Alzheimer’s Disease, Julie Knight, MS, Director of Respite and Trainings, Alzheimer's Services of the Capital Area (1 Clinical CEU for social workers, 1 CNE, 1 clock hour for LPC)

Alzheimer’s disease touches every community and impacts the Health Equity of those living with the disease. Although the disease touches every community, there are groups who face difficult challenges in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia’s. Exploring the Health Equity of those living with the disease can shed light on social, health, and environmental factors that increases the risk of health disparities. Applying dementia specific strategies can become a useful tool in increasing the Health Equity of underserved and vulnerable populations.

LGBTQ Track:  It’s Me Not You. Understanding Your Role in LGBTQ Health, Shamyra Howard, LCSW, On the Green Couch (1 General CEU for social workers, 1 CNE, 1 clock hour for LPC)

Are you a sex positive medical professional? If not, you're likely contributing to sexual health disparities that exist with people who are LGBTQ+. The purpose of this presentation is to describe the intersection of sex positivity and sexual health equity, between medical providers and people who are LGBTQ+. In an effort to decrease and/or ameliorate barriers to sexual health care among people who are LGBTQ+, Sexologist Shamyra, LCSW will teach medical providers how to incorporate culturally affirming sexual health assessments into their practice.

1:00PM-2:00PM - General Session 3

Women's Track:  Inequities of Breast Cancer, Denise Johnson, DNP, Louisiana Breast & Cervical Program, LSU Health Science Center (1 General CEU for social workers, 1 CNE, 1 clock hour for LPC)

Aging Track:  Caregivers of Patients with Heart Failure, Betty Monroe Kennedy, PhD, MPA, Community Outreach Specialist, Pennington Biomedical Research Center (1 General CEU for social workers, 1 CNE, 1 clock hour for LPC)

Currently, 120 studies have been identified, representing 5,700 caregivers. However, research on this population indicates that relatively few interventions have been developed and tested that effectively support heart failure (HF) family caregivers. Our preliminary work in “Exploring Patient, Caregiver, and Healthcare Provider Perceptions of Caring for Patients with Heart Failure: What are the Implications,” further revealed that interventions among caregivers of patients with HF are needed and should focus on education in family structures, family functioning, and skills training in family assessment and engagement. The significance and scientific premise of this proposed study is that although HF is a serious and complex condition that has raised interest, debate and research, its clinical outcomes remain poor. One reason for these poor outcomes is that there are limited studies on involving the family in HF self-care as evidenced and shown in our previous work. Thus, we are proposing to build upon our preliminary work to develop and evaluate a family-based education program for caregivers of and patients with HF for the primary purpose of improving self-care contribution of both using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) model.

LGBTQ Track:  Legal Rights and Policy Issues Affecting LGBTQ Patients, Sean Cahill, PhD, Director of Health Policy Research at the Fenway Institute (1 General CEU for social workers, 1 CNE, 1 clock hour for LPC)

This session will provide an overview of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) nondiscrimination provisions affecting health care, employment, and housing at the local, state and federal level. These include regulations governing private and public insurance access, access to health care, and access to social services, including elder services. Dr. Cahill will also describe conscience/religious refusal provisions in state and federal policy, what they mean for LGBTQ access to health care, and address collection and use of SOGI data to improve quality of care.

2:15PM-3:15PM - General Session 4

Women's Track:  Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Among Women of Color, Tara Benjamin, MD, Woman’s Hospital (1 General CEU for social workers, 1 CNE, 1 clock hour for LPC)

Aging Track:  Understanding Palliative Care: The Need and the Barriers, Mark Kantrow, MD, Our Lady of the Lake (1 Clinical CEU for social workers, 1 CNE, 1 clock hour for LPC)

The session will focus on understanding what Palliative Care really is, how it helps patients with serious illness and their families, and what some of the barriers are to receiving it. A deeper understanding of Palliative Care will enable one to advocate for themselves and those they love to improve the experience of serious illness.

LGBTQ Track:  Panel Discussion will feature the LGBTQ session presenters plus special guest Dillon King. (1 General CEU for social workers, 1 CNE, 1 clock hour for LPC)

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*This program has been approved for continuing education contact hours by the Louisiana State University School of Social Work as authorized by the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners and may be applied toward continuing education requirements for licensure renewal.

*This conference has been submitted to the Louisiana Counselors Association and the Louisiana Addiction Regulatory Authority for continuing education units.


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As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), health inequities are avoidable inequalities in health between groups of people within countries and between countries. These inequities may arise from socioeconomic status, living conditions and other social, geographical, and environmental determinants. According to the CDC, health equity is achieved when every person has the opportunity to “attain his or her full health potential” and no one is “disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances.” Open Talks will focus on health equity as it relates to the aging, women’s health and LGBTQ populations that are adversely affected. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports Louisiana’s elderly population accounts for a disproportionate amount of Medicaid program costs. Healthy People 2020 found that in elderly adults, disability rates are inversely related to income. Maternal health inequities exist across racial and ethnic lines, however, maternal and infant mortality and morbidity are highest for African Americans. According to the National LGBT Health Education Center, LGBT youth are two to three times more likely to commit suicide and are at a higher risk of HIV and STDs. By the end of the conference, attendees will be equipped to address these health equity issues in their practice and be more knowledgeable of how to aid their patients in an increased quality of life.


Conference venue

Join us at the luxurious L’Auberge Casino Hotel, a southern retreat designed to capture the rich culture of Baton Rouge.  Extend your  conference stay and indulge in lavish amenties at this property located on the Mississippi River.

Conference Rate for Thursday, October 17 - $109

Please call 1-866-261-7777 for reservations by 10.3.19. 

Group Name: ROPEN19 in order to receive the Group Rate.  

Planning Committee

Jamie Barney, DSW, LCSW-BACS
Director of Social Services

Pam Ellis, RN, ACRN
Board Member

La’Shantlen Russ, MPA
Project Manager

Lori Lauve
Director of Community Engagement

Jamie Roques, MPA, MPH, APRN
Director of Nursing

Shannon E. Wilkerson, LPC
Mental Health Counselor

Our 2019 Sponsors


Our 2019 exhibitors: