The Wexner Center promotes health equity with Healthy Community Day
While racial inequities remain significant in Franklin County health outcomes, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Healthy Community Day is part of an effort by the center to support not just individual patients , but entire communities.
After a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, the event has returned to Ohio State Outpatient Care East.
The event featured over 30 community partners, dozens of East High School Marching Band information, music and entertainment tables, and 15 different free health screenings. During the first two hours, more than 130 people enjoyed free screenings.
Attendees could find tables of mentoring organizations, local support programs, medical services and more. There were also free vegetables, drug test kits and naloxone.
The relaxed atmosphere of the event provided a comfortable and fun opportunity for attendees and their children, instead of the often clinical experience of a doctor’s visit.
“It’s a way to engage people in a non-threatening way,” Jackiethia Busch said. “More just kind of a conversation, not in a formal medical setting, but just t-shirts and jeans.”
Busch was the lead organizer for the event and serves as senior outreach coordinator for Wexner’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement.
Wanda Brown, 66, a longtime advocate for healthy communities, said she found the event and others like it very helpful.
“It’s extremely valuable. Without it, people will not be screened,” she said.
Wexner employees and volunteers often use the term “social determinants of health,” referring to how social and economic factors influence health outcomes, and much of Healthy Community Day is dedicated to these factors.
“It’s not just about going to the doctor. If you can’t eat, if you don’t have a roof over your head, if you can’t keep the lights on, we have people here,” said Chasity Washington, director of the Center for Cancer Health Equity, who helped coordinate with community vendors for the event.
One of the resources at the event was Rentful614, a public-private partnership program that connects tenants with rental assistance. Rentful614 reports that the program has helped over 45,000 families.
“There has always been a need for health equity. People of color tend to have more health disparities, more issues accessing care often,” Washington said. “A lot of that could come from historical or systemic racism. Being here on the East Side in the community, we are accessible to people.
William Woods, 65, found Saturday’s event useful, but felt some Near Easterners still struggled to attend.
“It’s really nice; I wish more residents would participate,” he said. “Sometimes residents are afraid to go out; sometimes they don’t have transportation or can work.
Other Wexner Medical Center programs aimed at addressing health inequities include Community Care Coach and Moms2B.
The Community Care Coach is a mobile care unit with two examination rooms on board. Moms2B is a support and education program for women from pregnancy to the child’s first birthday. Before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, black women experienced significantly higher infant mortality rates than white women.