Inspired by the Illinois Health and Hospital Association’s Health Equity Action Day held in May, Weiss Chief Nursing Officer Dr. Yolanda Coleman, members of the hospital’s leadership team and honored community partners met in person and via ZOOM to discuss how to work together to improve health equity within the Uptown community.

Left to right: Chief Nursing Officer Dr. Yolanda Coleman, PhD, MS, RN, FACHE, NEA-BC, Director of Rehabilitation LeAnna Becker, PT, DPT, MRMC, and Senior Center, Volunteer and SHIP Program Coordinator Judi Jordan discuss the kickoff of an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council following the health equity meeting earlier this May.

The forum began with the group watching bestselling author and policy expert Heather McGhee’s TED Talk: Racism Has a Cost for Everyone.

The provocative video explores the way racism has negatively impacted not only our society, but also our economy. McGhee examines the idea that our fates are linked: An injury to one is an injury to all. Only by working together with a focus on our common humanity can we build a stronger America, she said.

At the conclusion of the video, the group discussed ways to identify and address health disparities in Uptown. As a healthcare provider committed to the health and well-being of our community, Weiss together with community partners seeks to:

  • Enhance access to care for underserved groups
  • Address social risk factors and barriers to care for at-risk groups
  • Identify new shared initiatives to welcome diversity, encourage inclusion, and improve health equity

The group brainstormed several new initiatives to improve access to care, expand services and educate staff. Next steps include the creation of an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council at Weiss, as well as a semi-annual Health Equity Forum for community partners and members to share ideas and partner with Weiss in better serving the diverse Uptown community.

“Achieving social justice in health requires that we continually address the disparities that act as barriers to care. We recognize the need to shine a light on health equity and are excited to engage more closely with our community moving forward,” shared Dr. Coleman.

“Engaging with our community is critical. To discover the true needs of the underserved they need to be included in the conversation. I look forward to participating in future health equity forums,” stated Shiva Singh Khalsa, a community activist and senior center volunteer who teaches chair yoga at Weiss.