What does health equity or community health mean to you?
A state of health equity is one in which everyone is able to reach their highest level of health. While the equity is often used interchangeable with equality, there are key differences in the two. Unlike a state of equality in everyone is treated the same, equity is a state in which equal access of opportunity is created and situational differences are accounted for. After the first day at SSP, several of our youth leaders commented on how the difference between the terms is critical in discussions of community health. As a group we came to the conclusion that health equity is a better goal than health equality as it better reaches a state of justice.
During our first neighborhood day we baked cookies at Ronald McDonald House, which could potentially address some of the inequities. While UChicago Medical Center is meant to serve the south side of Chicago, accessing the hospital is still an issue for many families. By providing a home and food for these families, RMH creates some sort of equity by improving access. Our youth leaders said that baking was a new experience that they really enjoyed, and that it felt nice to provide for people who couldn’t provide for themselves at the moment. They also noted how nice the facilities are, and how that made it seem like RMH really cared for the people.
The Friend and Family Health Center, right next to Ronald McDonald House is also an asset working towards creating equity that we briefly discussed. As a federally qualified health center, it works towards covering the uninsured and addresses several social determinants of health by having clinical social workers partner with the community. We all were very impressed with the work they were doing!
Overall, as we have begun spending more time in Washington Park and interacting with more community leaders, it is evident that there are several opportunities to create health equity in the community. Health extends beyond the typical medical care which is often tied to the term, and health intervention can occur on the primary, secondary, tertiary, or social level. We are excited to continue to learn more about the needs and assets of Washington Park, and exploring methods in which we can intervene and can be leaders in this field!