Healthy Community Study

Health Equity Work Group Meeting 3

Thursday, May 10, 2011 – 7:00 a.m.

Rockford Memorial Hospital, Cafeteria Rm. 2 and/or 3

Evelyn Pagán, Mark Hunter, Co-chairs, Presiding

Present: Evelyn Pagán, Mark Hunter, Co-chairs; Chris Greenwood; Shelton Kay; Dr. Martin MacDowell; Dr. Colleen Klein; Pastor Pam Hillenbrand

Staff: Becky Cook Kendall, Sofya Peysakhovich

The meeting was called to order by Evelyn Pagán. Minutes from the previous meeting were approved. The group discussed the definition of health equity as found in the Whitehead report. The group agreed on a working definition of inequity, featuring “differences… that are not only unnecessary and avoidable, but in addition unfair or unjust”[1]. This definition raises the level of social responsibility – it’s unavoidable. It promotes an opportunities framework as well, “a fair chance for all.”

The work group is very interested in coming up with best-practice recommendations that could be measured with a report card or “dashboard” items. Dr. Collins’ work on low birth weight (LBW) babies was discussed.

The work group then began working through Health Problem Analysis Worksheets. Mark Hunter suggested that avoidable premature morbidity and mortality be the health issue for discussion. It was noted that the study was lacking in data on homelessness in the region – especially as it pertains to families.

Themes that the group touched upon during their discussion were:

·  Low socioeconomic status (SES)

·  Lack of full education

·  Generational poverty

·  Dearth of employment opportunities in this day and age. It was noted that in the past, available manufacturing jobs didn’t require education beyond high school. Consideration must be given to Rockford’s history of manufacturing security and subsequent decline. How did this affect the region’s legacy/imagination/identity?

·  Support networks that drive feelings of hope/empowerment/ambition/success (first and foremost teachers, then family, and other mentors or institutions of support)

·  Acceptance of (hopeless) “socioeconomic norms” may lead to not seeking opportunities

=> “normalization of a variance” – as people begin to believe the “American dream” is not very possible for them, they lose hope.

·  Looking at history of the 1970’s one finds less disparities, less grinding poverty, more hope. Incessant poverty takes away hope, and the only thing people are able to do is “work the system” because it’s the only hope they have.

·  Generational drive for betterment waning

·  People have lost sight of long-term planning

Pastor Hillenbrand associates the allocation of a community’s assets as a direct contributing factor. Until we as a people make the determination to allocate our assets towards education, towards good housing, we are not going to get out of the rut. It is useful to look at what other countries have done in this regard.

The work group discussed what kinds of things the Health Council might be prepared to do, including potentially taking on advocacy or policy issues. The mission and vision speak to education, advocacy and action, and Rockford Health Council as a catalyst for change by bringing region together around this. Becky Cook Kendall will bring forward to the steering committee the results of the deliberations of this work group. Rockford Health Council could be a fire-starter - a convener, facilitator, and an advocate for consensus on an agenda.