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Our Connection as a Community: a takeaway from “Celebrate What’s Right: Health Equity”

In today’s climate, health is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, including health equity. With so many sources providing information, it can be overwhelming and often stressful to think about how best to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our community safe and healthy during a pandemic. However, organizations like New Memphis choose to “celebrate what’s right” when it comes to health equity in Memphis, which is why they hosted a webinar on August 4th featuring local leaders in the healthcare industry to speak on the topic.

Before we dive into a takeaway from the webinar, let’s provide some context for the term, health equity. According to the American Public Health Association, health equity means that “everyone has the opportunity to attain their highest level of health. Inequities are created when barriers prevent individuals and communities from accessing these conditions and reaching their full potential. Inequities differ from health disparities, which are differences in health status between people related to social or demographic factors such as race, gender, income or geographic region. Health disparities are one way we can measure our progress toward achieving health equity.”

Celebrate What’s Right: Health Equity sponsored by First Horizon Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee was moderated by Dr. Kendra Hotz of Rhodes College. In addition to Hotz, panelists for the webinar included 1) Jenny Bartlett-Prescott of Church Health Center 2) Sandra Madubuonw of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, 3) Alisa Haushalter of the Shelby County Health Department 4) Lilian Ogari Of Baptist College of Health Sciences and 4) Cathy Pope of the Mid-South Food Bank.

The program lasted an hour in its entirety, and one common theme throughout was our “connection as a community” as it relates to health equity, especially during COVID-19. “I do hope that in one way because of the pandemic and the way that the virus spreads, that it has very quickly brought home the message that we are all interconnected – so my health is very much connected to the health of my neighbor. Whether there is a red line between my neighborhood and their neighborhood doesn’t really matter if we’re at the same grocery store. And so, something that I hope we will build on is this increased awareness of our interconnectedness and the need to care about each other’s health” commented Bartlett-Prescott.

The panel then challenged each attendee to take action in building increased health equity in our community.  Examples included collectively figuring out how to do a better job with public transit, advancing a living wage for all Memphians, increasing affordable healthcare options, building and supporting grocery stores in food insecure neighborhoods, investing in education for all students, and supporting nonprofits that are working to drive health equity in our community.

If you missed Celebrate What’s Right: Health Equity there is a recording of the webinar above. If you want to attend more events like this in the future, be sure to mark your calendar for Celebrate What’s Right: Early Education on October 20, 2020 and Celebrate What’s Right, Culture City, USA on November 18, 2020 both hosted by New Memphis. To learn more about New Memphis check out their website at www.newmemphis.org.

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