Turning up the H.E.A.T. – Health Equity and Advocacy Tour – Part 2

SNMA’s 2010-2011 HEAT had a total of seven stops with four of them being in major cities in the eastern part of the country, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, New York and Atlanta. Each stop had a theme on which its events were focused– childhood obesity, education, poverty, and access.

Washington, DC

In Washington, their HEAT event could only warm the hearts (and not the hands, noses, or feet) of the volunteers that participated in a one-mile walk/run on that brisk November day. The walk/run benefited the children of the Calomaris branch of the YMCA. Keeping with the theme of “Combating Childhood Obesity One Step at a Time,” over 25 children attended the event alongside SNMA and NMA members that participated in the walk. This region also hosted educational activities with the children to truly involve them in their own health education. In conjunction with the walk, Region VI held a Town Hall Discussion on the Social Determinants of Childhood Obesity. Local health professionals, lawmakers, public health activists and students were invited and spokes as panelists. SNMA member and Region VI Assistant Regional Director, Kisha Young presented a presentation entitled, “What is Childhood Obesity and Why is it an Epidemic?” along with a keynote speech from Dr. Michelle Tingling-Clemmons, the director of Place Matters in Washington DC. Place Matters is a Health Policy Institute that focuses on eliminating health disparities by addressing the social determinants of health, which nicely aligns with the theme of the Region VI HEAT event.

 

Philadelphia

On February 5, 2011 Drexel University College of Medicine hosted Region VIII’s “Poverty Kills!” Town Hall Meeting. The goal of this town hall was to bring greater attention to the role poverty plays as a social determinant of health and its impact on low-income communities across America.  Expert panelists included such laureates as The Honorable Marian B. Tasco, 9th District of Philadelphia City Councilwoman; Michael Williams, Esq, Senior Attorney, Health and Adult Services Unit, City of Philadelphia Law Department and Jamahal C. Boyd, Sr, Director, Center for Health Equity, Pennsylvania Department of Health. Attendees of this town hall were enthusiastic about the ideas discussed and their roles as advocates. This enthusiasm was best demonstrated in the numbers that came to support the community service project conducted on the same day in collaboration with the Philadelphia based organization “Chosen 300 Ministries.” This organization works to unify people for the common purpose of feeding the homeless of Philadelphia and the world. Region VIII and Chosen 300 helped feed the homeless during the lunch hours along with hosting a Resource Fair that included information about STD Prevention, Safe Practices, Health, and Wellness. Furthermore, Region VIII hosted a letter writing campaign allowing the homeless of Philadelphia to write to state representatives about the issues that are of particular relevance to them.

 

New York

Region IX chose to address the theme of Education as a Social Determinant of Health from a number of different angles by involving all of the regional SNMA chapters.  On December 4, 2010, Region IX hosted an Information Expo wherein each chapter was challenged to develop an interactive table display in order to facilitate discussion and create a learning environment that participants would enjoy and remember. Throughout the day there were a number of additional workshops on health and fitness and sexually transmitted diseases in an effort to educate, answer questions, and dispel myths about these common issues. Last, Region IX hosted a blood and bone marrow drive, as well as a coat drive, seeing that these needs are particularly relevant to the NY and NJ communities. In order to address education as a Social Determinant of health, Region IX also hosted a town hall meeting with Moderator Nathan Boucher, of the Public Health Association of NYC who gave a brief introduction lecture on “Social Determinants of Health”.  Other panelists included Frank Gray, Ed.D., former Superintendent of NYC schools, Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, NYC Councilmember on the Committee on Health, Rebecca Phaeton, M.D., Medical Oncologist at Montefiore Medical Center, and Priya Maffand, M.P.H., Queens College Health Educator. An informative question and answer session followed in which a number of people were given the opportunity to ask more questions for further clarification and allow the panelists to expound on the ideas that were presented.

 

Atlanta

We appropriately round out the discussion of the HEAT events by saving Hotlanta for last. Held on March 5, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia, Region IV focused on the topic of Safety Net/Access, and provided a health fair for the residents of the Nicholas House — Atlanta’s only shelter for homeless families. Screenings provided included blood pressure, glucose, eye exams, BMI, and mental health. Residents from Morehouse School of Medicine were present to provide counseling and to answer any questions residents had concerning their results. Separate activities were available for the children but several participated in health screenings. In addition, Region 4 conducted a town hall forum on “Saving the Healthcare Safety Net” to address access to health care through safety net hospitals and community health centers and highlighting their invaluable importance to communities like Atlanta.  An expert panel was assembled to contribute perspective on the future of the healthcare safety net in the context of a changing healthcare landscape.  Their presentations aimed to assist medical students and community members in understanding of the current safety net infrastructure, its future challenges and the changing healthcare landscape.  The panel included Dr. Harry Heiman, Director of Health Policy at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute; Dr. Leon Haley, Jr, Medical Director of Grady Memorial Hospital Emergency Care Clinic; Dr. Jada Bussey-Jones, Co-Director of Primary Care Center at Grady Memorial Hospital, and Ms. Sandra Austin Crayton, of Alvarez and Marsal Health Care Industry Group. The town hall closed with audience questions and a charge from the panel to remain involved, not to become daunted by challenges and instead find purpose in the many opportunities to be part of the solution.

Overall the HEAT events of this past SNMA year were immensely successful and continue to highlight the role that SNMA as an organization plays in striving for health equity and advocating for our patients and communities within the health care system.

 

 

 

 

 

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