The Consumer Health Foundation believes that one of its key roles is to bring people together to discuss solutions to critical issues affecting our communities as a means to help spur collective action. We know that how we frame and understand an issue determines the solution. Given CHF’s Health Justice framework, this is the context through which we do our work.
Each year CHF hosts an annual meeting designed to share important information and work related to our work to eliminate racial and ethnic social and health inequities. Since 2006, our meetings have specifically focused on engaging in community-wide health equity dialogues focusing on the impact of structural racism on the health and well-being of communities of color:
In July 2012, CHF held a discussion about Community Health Workers with participants from DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. The participants included community health workers and representatives from clinics, community organizations, primary care coalitions, local government, and foundations. Community Health Workers play an important role in ensuring that consumers have the knowledge to navigate the healthcare system and connecting them to appropriate healthcare services. Community health workers help patients navigate the healthcare system, undertake outreach and health education, and advocate for patients. Overall, CHWs help to increase access to health care, improve quality of care, and address health equity. They will also play an important role in the implementation of health reform. The discussion paper, Community Health Workers, provided background information about the field. Participants discussed recommendations on how to develop, strengthen, and expand the CHW field in the region.
In January 2010, CHF provided tickets for 200 community members and nonprofit partners to see actress, playwright and author Anna Deavere Smith portray 20 different characters’ experiences with the health care system in her witty and compelling one-woman play, Let Me Down Easy. This event was done in partnership with Arena Stage. Read more
On October 1, 2009 CHF partnered with Grantmakers In Health to convene the meeting Changing The Conversation: Taking A Social Determinants Of Health Approach To Addressing HIV/AIDS Among Women Of Color with the purpose of understanding HIV/AIDS prevention among African American women through a social determinants lens and exploring the possibilities that this approach opens up.
In June 2009, CHF contracted with Common Health Action to plan and facilitate its Ruttenberg Youth Health Justice Retreat for youth health advocates from Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, LifeStarts Youth and Family Services, and Sasha Bruce Youthwork’s Youth-Led in Washington, D.C.’s Wards 7 and 8. The retreat was held at the Pearlstone Conference and Retreat Center in Reisterstown, Maryland, from Friday, June 19 to Sunday, June 21, 2009, and provided 11 youth advocates ages 16 to 19 the opportunity to participate in facilitated activities and experiences designed to increase their understanding of the social determinants of health equity (SDOHE), and how to incorporate the SDOHE framework into their current health advocacy/justice efforts within their programs. The goals of the retreat were to:
CHF plans to follow-up and continue this effort.
In 2004 and 2005, CHF sponsored various events where we invited community members from across the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region to raise their voices and speak out about the conditions that threaten their health and well-being, and, more importantly, to propose creative solutions to address these problems. Starting with our Annual Meeting & Community Speakout in June 2004, these events included: Fiesta DC, Washington, D.C.’s Latino Heritage Festival, in October 2004; the Spring Community Health Speakout in Prince George’s County with the Health Action Forum in April 2005; focus groups at Arlington Free Clinic in May 2005; and ending with our 2005 Annual Meeting, Crossing the Lines for Health: Community Inspiration, Action and Transformation. Our September 2006 report, Speaking Up and Speaking Out for Health: A Community Call to Action to Improve Health and Health Care in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Region Link to report briefly summarizes what we heard and more importantly, presents recommendations that are intended to help local governments, healthcare providers, and foundations improve health and health care access and quality for traditionally underserved communities.