Southeastern Iowa Community Health Centers Team Up with Burlington Black Leadership Council to Address Health Care Gaps Facing Black Americans and Help Improve Community Health Outcomes .
“The program focuses on health measures and health outcomes for minorities and disadvantaged populations,” said Patrick Williams, a member of the BLC, who is also a pediatrician at the CHC.
The main objective of the partnership is to create equity in health. While equality means that all receive the same services, equity means that all receive what they need. Health equity is necessary because, statistically speaking, health outcomes are worse for blacks than for their white counterparts.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, disparities in death rates between black and white Americans have narrowed over time, but blacks are more likely to die at an early age from all causes than whites. Black Americans between the ages of 18 and 49 are twice as likely to die of heart disease as their white counterparts. Black Americans are also more likely to have strokes than their white counterparts, almost twice as likely across all age groups.
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Heart disease is the leading cause of death among blacks 65 or older, exceeding white death rates by 5%. But heart disease deaths are on the decline. Between 1990 and 2015, black heart disease deaths per 100,000 were nearly halved.
It’s not that black Americans start out with poorer health outcomes. Young black people between the ages of 18 and 34, for example, are just as likely to have diabetes as their white counterparts. But by the time they hit the 50 to 64 age bracket, black people are almost 1.6 times more likely to have diabetes. Likewise, black Americans are only slightly more likely to have high blood pressure problems, but the disparity is increased tenfold in the 50 to 64 age group.
Preventive medicine can help correct a problem before it becomes a life-threatening problem, and this is one of the main ways the BLC-CHC partnership hopes to improve health outcomes.
“It’s checking their eyes, it’s monitoring their hemoglobin A1C,” said Williams, who attended a community welcome meeting last month hosted by the BLC and CHC, which performed health checks during the event. “What we know is individuals in the community don’t come into contact with their suppliers.
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According to the Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey, about 19% of blacks reported forgoing medical care because they could not afford to see a doctor. This is about 5% higher than whites who said the same. This is because black people are nearly 10% more likely to live in poverty between the ages of 18 and 64 than their white counterparts, according to the CDC.
The CHC has already implemented a sliding-scale payment method, which can help provide more options for people with less income, but Williams said lack of trust is another major hurdle he says prevents members of the black community from obtaining health care.
Health is not just about a person, he explained. Health is a team matter, and you cannot build a team properly without confidence.
“One of the things BLC and CHC hope to do is build a better relationship between the community and their health care providers,” said Williams.
The CDC agrees, noting that just working on health programs isn’t enough. Health professionals need to take a multidimensional approach by interacting with communities in non-health contexts. The CDC also recommends that healthcare providers strive to understand cultural differences between patient groups.
Williams said some disadvantaged people may not know how the health system works because they have not seen a doctor regularly, and improving knowledge of the health system can help improve health outcomes.
By improving the health of black residents, Williams said, the overall health of the Burlington community is improved. Monitoring may seem like a small step, but detecting problems early will lead to better health outcomes.
BLC President Rob Brown expects BLC and CHC leaders to meet over the next few months to develop a comprehensive plan for a program to build relationships between healthcare professionals and black communities. .