03/16/12 – A Community Comes Together to Work on “Getting the Health Care You Need”by Janet Meredith
Executive Director, 2040 Partners for Health
More than 130 community members, health care providers, researchers, and academics took part in an informal and lively discussion of key issues affecting health in our community at the 2040 Health Summit last month. The event involved presentations, breakout discussions and a powerfully motivational keynote speech by Senator Irene Aguilar, MD, about health disparities and the importance of community involvement in health issues It was exciting to see the level of community engagement, questions and feedback throughout the morning.
The overall theme of the event, "Getting the Health Care You Need," was developed by a community advisory group working with 2040 Partners for Health. The topics of the day supported this theme from many different perspectives, including grassroots needs, policy change, community action and long-term community health initiatives.
The focal presentation of the morning was given by a group of medical students and community members reporting on a current project about discrimination in health care. Statistics show that African-American and Latino people receive different care than whites, and data also show that many people living in five neighborhoods (Park Hill, North East Park Hill, Stapleton, East Montclair, and North West Aurora) believe they experience discrimination in health care. The purpose of the project is to understand what those experiences are, and to use the information to change the way that health care providers are educated about discrimination and cultural competency, as well as to arm community members with tools to reduce the impact of discrimination.
The attendees then heard from Cec Ortiz about an exciting new project in Colorado called "Latino Age Wave," which aims to invest in and advocate for innovative services and programs that support the well-being of Denver's Latino older adult populations. We will no doubt hear more about this important work in coming months.
Breakout sessions allowed community members to engage in planning action steps to address health disparities, and to learn about and discuss other key health issues, including:
- The state's new policies on aging and long term care
- The Colorado health insurance exchange
- Access to mental health resources in our community.
It was incredible to see the excitement of the participants, and their interest in signing up to volunteer to work on these critical issues.
After the sessions, keynote speaker Senator Aguilar talked in detail about health disparities in Colorado. She is a powerful and engaging speaker, and her talk gave the audience information on the relationships of race, education, social support, physical environment, behavior and other factors to community health. She urged community members to be involved in pushing for access to health and health care, with the goal of having health care for all.
A special "2040 Community Partner Award, 2012," was given to the group Taking Neighborhood Health to Heart in recognition of its work, durability and commitment to partnering to improve community health.
Feedback about the Health Summit shows that:
- More than 90% of respondents indicated they had a better understanding of specific health care access issues following the breakout sessions
- 75% of respondents indicated they would share the information they gained at the Summit with family, friends, co-workers or members of the community
- Participants strongly agreed with the statements "My voice matters..." (>90%), "Health care reform will be good for me and my family" (>85%) and "Working together, we can move Colorado closer to a future where getting the care you need, when you need it, isn't too much to ask" (98%)
- More than 80% said they would attend another Summit.
To learn more and see photos and video clips from 2040 Neighborhood Health Summit, visit the 2040 Partners for Health Facebook page.
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