Last week at the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services’ first annual health equity conference Chicago community health leaders Lucia Flores, Chicago Director of Partners in Health US, and Angie Grover, Cofounder and Chief Operating Officer of Metopio highlighted the Chicago Health Atlas and the equitable actions it is driving.
Lucia and Angie spoke as part of the discussion about inclusive healthcare with a focus on addressing health disparities and empowering the federally qualified health center (FQHC) workforce with data.
Here are 3 things you missed at their session:
Powering health equity with passionate, data-driven leaders: Lucia, who previously served as the Director of Community Engagement, at Esperanza Health Centers, an FQHC, that cares for more than 50,000 patients each year across five sites on the Southwest Side of Chicago, was selected to serve as a Healthy Chicago Equity Zone leader.
The new role, in partnership with the Chicago Department of Public Health, included attending a data academy featuring the Chicago Health Atlas. The data and tools available through the Chicago Health Atlas, powered by Metopio, made it possible for individuals and organizations, like Lucia and Esperanza, to collaborate and focus on the most prevalent needs in communities as part of a city-wide effort to tackle systemic racism and health disparities.
New knowledge inspires new action: While Lucia had already dedicated the past 20 years to developing and increasing access to resources in Chicago communities, exploring the Chicago Health Atlas was her first opportunity to access and apply this breadth and depth of data to her work. When she dug in to analyze data for her neighborhood, life expectancy was five years lower than a more resourced, largely Non-Hispanic white community on the North side of the city.
While no one variable can close this gap, Lucy knew the community. Empowered with better access to better data, Lucia found disparities in Pre-K enrollment data. Knowing that academic achievement is a predictor for future success and lifelong health outcomes she identified that just 5 minutes from where she lives in the West Lawn community area, the Pre-K enrollment is only 8% whereas the city-wide average is 63%. That is a staggering gap – and Lucia knew she could help.
Translating data into community impact: Lucia worked in collaboration with the medical director of pediatrics at Esperanza to identify tangible action they could take to address this gap. They partnered to have Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and other educational resources in the waiting room to answer questions and get them connected to the school system, register them for library cards and find available daycare providers. She also looked at the demographics and saw that many inter-generational families were living in the community, which is common in many Latino families.
“There are so many ways to reach people, provide education and connect them to resources by taking action at many points of entry – the health center, education system, door knocking, and canvassing to name a few,” she said. “And imagine, this is just one health indicator.”
Lucia’s story is one of health equity, of data to back up lived experiences and of action to help improve lives in so many ways. Even more importantly, she is a creating a legacy of data-sharing and community engagement by passing along what’s she has learned and why it matters.
To learn more about the Chicago Health Atlas, health equity zones, or strategies for creating tech-driven opportunities for easy, accessible data-sharing, please visit contact Angie@metop.io.