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January 2022 Connect with us Facebook Twitter Sign up  |  Archive  |  Advertise
Editor's e-Note
Health disparities have always been present in the U.S. health care system but the pandemic has magnified their brutalness. The despair is felt by many, but, as this month’s E-News Exclusive suggests, social workers play an important role in helping relieve the inequities.

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— Lee DeOrio, editorial director
e-News Exclusive
Inequities in Health Care: How Social Workers Can Step Up to the Plate
By Elizabeth Drucker

If you talk to any social worker who has been in the field for a while, many will say that health inequities can seem insurmountable. One masters-level clinician working in a community mental health center describes a case where an African-American woman was regularly denied vital pain medication she needed because the doctors dismissed her pain. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Fortunately, it is an issue that both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the NASW are trying to moderate.

With their National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the CDC strives to equalize variables that negatively impact health care. More specifically, the organization has designed the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Program to target disparities occurring in these populations: Black or African-American, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Alaska Native persons.

A sharp increase in disease among patients of these marginalized groups adds urgency to the situation. For example, according to the CDC, in 2015–2016 Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black adults had a higher prevalence of obesity than non-Hispanic white adults.

Social workers’ mission is aligned with that of the CDC. And there are many actions they can take to help level the playing field. In the latest revision of the Code of Ethics (2021), the NASW added a section on Cultural Competence. It states that “social workers must take action against oppression, racism, discrimination, and inequities, and acknowledge personal privilege.”

Social workers must always focus on being inclusive. By not making an effort to narrow the health disparities gap, more individual suffering, along with additional structural barriers in the health care system as a whole, will occur. Social workers are trained to advocate for their clients and must never forget this key focus of practice. For example, the NASW is concerned with how social workers will provide culturally competent care to those seeking “electronic social work services.” So-called telehealth services have become a way of life since the advent of the pandemic. But not everyone has access to a computer and quiet space to have sessions with a therapist.

Full story »
Industry Insight
Justice in Aging Launches Strategic Initiative to Advance Equity

Justice in Aging announces a new strategic initiative to advance equity. This initiative deploys deliberate strategies and tools and includes dedicated staffing to pursue systemic change in laws and policies that will improve the lives of low-income older adults who experience inequities rooted in historical, persistent, and structural racism, ageism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and xenophobia, with a special focus on advancing racial equity.

For generations, systemic inequities and racism in health care, housing, education, employment, and access to wealth and resources have kept people of color, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, those living with disabilities, immigrants, and those with limited English proficiency from meeting their basic needs. These challenges persist throughout a person’s lifetime and compound for those living at the intersection of multiple identities. As people grow older, the challenges become even greater as they experience ageism.

Denny Chan, an attorney at Justice in Aging for the past seven years, is leading this effort as the directing attorney for equity advocacy. He is managing a cross-issue, cross-organizational team charged with implementing the initiative, and all Justice in Aging staff are contributing to this work.

The events of the past year, including the inequities revealed by the COVID-19 crisis, and the national reckoning with anti-Black racism following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others, as well as a string of violent attacks on Asian American older adults, including the shootings in Atlanta and beyond, have made it clear that it is past time to specifically address the structural inequities in our laws and policies that are fueled by racism and bias.

Read more »
Products & Services
CommonHealth ACTION Launches Foundations of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Online Course

CommonHealth ACTION, a national nonprofit that works with organizations and individuals to support leadership development and growth, has made its popular Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Training available online. Developed over the past decade, this course helps participants apply equitable, diverse, and inclusive practices to their professional activities and interpersonal relationships. Previously offered in person, the training is now available as a self-paced online learning experience that gives organizations and individuals more flexibility, affordability, and access.

Created by CommonHealth ACTION’s subject matter experts, the EDI Online course includes tools and processes that support ongoing behavior change; specifically, perspective transformation—the idea that once individuals know, think, and believe something different, they will decide, behave, and act differently. Throughout the course, participants may experience constructive discomfort that helps pave the way for meaningful change.

“Between the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest related to the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and polarization from the 2020 election, people and businesses throughout the country are intently seeking solutions to long-standing problems of racial injustice and ways to develop relationships that will make our society fair and effective,” says Natalie S. Burke, president and CEO of CommonHealth ACTION. “Our EDI online course teaches people to analyze and design equitable policies, programs, and practices; encourages individual growth necessary to engage in equitable decisions, behaviors, and actions; and supports the development of authentic relationships across identities.”

Read more »
In this e-Newsletter
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Other News
Lakesha Butler Delivers Health Science Lecture to Honor MLK Day
To honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a lecture titled “This Is America: Confronting Health Inequities … Writing Prescriptions for Change” discussed the importance of disrupting and dismantling inequities and injustices in health care and higher education, reports The Michigan Daily.

Foster Youth Not Receiving Needed Support to Succeed at Community College
Researchers found that despite efforts to remove financial barriers, college enrollment and graduation rates for young people in foster care are low and more support is needed, according to Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
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