Advancing Health Equity
In 1970, the Black Panther Party directed all chapters to open healthcare clinics where volunteers dispensed basic medical care as well as housing assistance and legal aid. This action helped to inspire and create the health center movement, which empowered people to take ownership and control of their own healthcare while bringing health care services to low income and marginalized communities. CHCs have from their inception been partners in fighting for health equity, expanding health care access, and helping to address social determinants of health (SDOH).
Given this history, if we wish to create a true equitable health system, we must first address institutional racism, environmental racism and implicit bias that exists in American culture. As CPCA’s equity work has progressed our knowledge and understanding of institutional racism and implicit bias has also grown. Our equity work has provided us the opportunity to truly reflect on how institutional racism and implicit bias are interwoven into our full health care system and the impacts its had to black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) patients.
Health centers were formed in response to racism and inequity and have made tremendous strides in providing access and reducing disparities. Yet health centers are embedded in a health care system with deep roots of inequity. While these realities have been present, this year has brought them into stark focus and we can no longer ignore or be overwhelmed at how intractable these inequities are, we must address them head on. Without doing so we pay a disservice to the roots of the health center movement and most importantly the patients who have come to rely on this incredibly powerful delivery system.
In partnership with the Supporting Black Communities (SBC) Workgroup and the Health Equity Taskforce (HETF), CPCA aims to deepen and refine the Association’s health equity agenda and is committed to this work in perpetuity.
CPCA’s Internal Health Equity Work
CPCA has taken or goal of achieving equity for all further by hiring a consultant to lead us on the path to become an anti-racist organization. This work includes strategic planning, deep and intentional staff conversations, readings, videos, and homework to help on the personal process that is becoming anti-racist. We firmly believe that in order to reach true equity and change we must begin with conducting self-reflection within the organization to ensure we are removing internal biases and institutional racism. This will allow us to be true to ourselves while continuing to advocate for polices that create a more equitable health care system.
Health Equity Taskforce (HETF)
The goal of this taskforce is to work alongside of CHCs to identify and respond to the inequities that have been exacerbated by COVID-19 while helping to centralize health equity related conversation in one place. This Taskforce will help us coordinate the great health equity work that all CHC staff and CPCA staff are touching within their respective issues into one area of conversation. HETF will also help centralize our health equity work in one place. As we know, to reach true health equity we must look at all we do through a health equity lens, thus CPCA staff has been taking steps to bring health equity into their issue areas, Peer Networks and Workgroups. We hope that we can integrate all these conversations into one place so we can more intentionally and successfully coordinate the work.
Supporting Black Communities Workgroup
The Supporting Black Communities (SBC) Workgroup currently has about 45 members and has met multiple times since its inception. In their short time together, they have built out an agenda with goals, advocacy priorities and communications. Over the course of the fall and winter, CPCA and the SBC aim to create trainings and a how to guide to help bring implicit bias trainings to health centers and their staff. The goal is to facilitate the process of obtaining C-suite support for establishing these trainings in the hopes of encouraging all health centers to provide implicit bias trainings.
Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
CPCA is engaged in the Administration’s discussions around vaccine distribution. A central element CPCA is advocating in these conversations is the need for a plan to address many people’s concerns, in particular BIPOC’s concerns about a vaccine. The state is aware of these challenges and is already planning to have a state review of any vaccines approved by the federal government to provide an additional level of assurance to Californian’s about the efficacy and safety of the drug. CPCA has also been involved in on one of the first opportunities provided by the federal government to inform the equitable distribution of the vaccine and will continue to be involved in these conversations.