Inside USD

Event Builds Awareness, Action on Health Equity

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Questions abound about the state of the public health care system in the United States, everything from what’s covered, finding the right doctor for quality and adequate care and knowledge of the cost involved. Standard questions that require answers.

Then there’s the individual case study that make the issues with health care considerably more complex: A borderline diabetic woman is told by her physician that she needs to eat healthier, work out regularly and for the next three months visit the doctor for a monthly check-up.

Seems routine, right? But consider the social factors and it turns a normal diagnosis into anything but normal. Questions arise how a person’s health care/treatment plan is affected by transportation, insurance, race/ethnicity/culture, language barriers, the type of community a person lives in, availability of resources and economic status.

The complexities can lead to greater frustration, distrust and can become life threatening. This case study and others, including one about faith-based patients and learning that there are people willing to go to prison to get the medical attention they need, were discussed by a five-person community panel and University of San Diego students, staff and faculty who attended a Health Equity Workshop on Wednesday in Maher Hall’s Salomon Hall.

“We were able to go deeper, get to the roots of some of the problems,” said student leader Shantell Steve, a junior sociology major and pre-med student, who co-hosted the event with Alexa McAneney, a senior and student leader in USD’s Center for Awareness, Service and Action. Both students (pictured McAneney, left, and Steve, right) hoped that attendees would continue the conversation.

Addressing America’s health care system requires time, straight talk and, most of all, education that turns to widespread action.

Two USD students, Seth and Sedona, were involved in a group discussion Wednesday. Both said the event enhanced their awareness and a desire to learn and find ways to contribute. Students interested in pre-med programs can check out USD’s Pre-Health Advising services and Pre-Health student organizations to get involved.

Panelist Andrew Grimes, who is a USD senior Ethnic Studies major and pre-med student who has interned at Scripps Mercy Hospital and a student leader for USD’s Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS), was encouraged.

“It was a small group, but that made it more effective,” he said. “It’s important to see where it can go from here. We know it starts with awareness and education leads to taking action. We want to spread this awareness to take massive action. This is something that’s not really been brought onto this campus.”

Grimes was joined on the panel by Kameelah Abdullah, a third-year medical student at University of California, San Diego; Christy Schumacher, who is nationally certified in therapeutic massage and bodywork and is COO for the nonprofit Alternative Healing Network and operations director for Adams Avenue Integrative Health Wellness Center; Ramla Sahid, a community organizer committed to the well-being of residents, especially children, in the City Heights area of San Diego; and Dr. Robert Walker (pictured at right, third from left), chief physician and surgeon for the state of California who has done volunteer medical work internationally and for the Sweetwater Union High School District.

“I have a heart to help people, but that’s not enough,” Walker said. “I’m able to put my marketable skills to good use through medicine and work with people in all different cultures. I have compassion for people. By doing this important work, I feel that I’m doing something while I’m here on Earth rather than just being a user of the resources.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

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