By: Ruchi Patel, Northwestern University, Applied Practice Experience, Intern at Data Across Sectors for Health at IPHI
By addressing the social determinants of health – like barriers to accessing housing or food – community collaborations can catalyze a movement shifting efforts towards upstream factors like systemic racism. On Thursday, May 13th, 2021, All In: Data for Community Health hosted a webinar spotlight on Co-Creating a New Vision for Health & Wellness, in collaboration with Nemours Children’s Health System, Sharswood THRIVE, and Partners for a Healthier Paterson to discuss how organizations are working to achieve healthy communities by bringing together health systems, community development corporations, food banks, and community-based organizations to address collective prioritizes elevated by shared data.
The conversation was facilitated by Kate Burke Blackburn MSW and Bilal Taylor MPA of Nemours Children’s Health System, with guest speakers Mary Gainer from Philabundance and Hanaa A. Hamdi, Ph.D. of New Jersey Community Capital. Panelists working as local ‘network integrators’ were asked to share strategies used to address social determinants of health (SDOH) and how their networks advance racial equity and think of health more broadly at their respected institutions.
Panelists discussed how organizations could begin working to address health equity. Dr. Hanaa Hamdi shared, “naming racism and being intentional about health equity allows you to measure it, right, allows you to invest in it. It allows you to engage your impact.” When panelists were asked, “How are networks, with their healthcare partners, re-defining health?” Mary Granger makes a critical point on how practitioners need to involve community members in the work that is done. Mary recommends, “We need to have the voice of the community. We need to ask people what their issues are and what they need changed in the community.”. To understand what issues people are directly experiencing that limit their access to health or housing, organizations need to involve community members in the conversation. Hanaa mentions how “we also know health is not that linear. So it’s not just housing alone, but if families are experiencing [issues in] access to housing or access to food, these issues also need to be addressed so we can have that outcome, and that outcome is full health equity.” Mary shared how in addition to providing meals and groceries to families, the Ending Hunger for Good initiative at Philabundance also provides resources on being financially stable to build economic stability. It’s important to note that community engagement is an ongoing cycle, and interactions with community members should not just stop once services are provided.
Ultimately, policies must be more inclusive and work to dismantle inequities, including structural racism. By partnering with organizations that have a shared vision for health equity, and removing barriers that have resulted in structural and institutional racism, collaborations can work collectively to ensure equitable access for all.
Access the whole recording, download session handout, and slides for All In: Data for Community Health Webinar Showcase Nemours’ Children’s Health System Present Webinar Spotlight on Co-Creating a New Vision for Health & Wellness, here.