Monday, February 10, 2020

Vision Checkup

If you want to get a good overview of the Horizon Foundation’s 2020 Vision for Health in Howard County report, may I recommend:

“In Howard County, black infants due at twice the rate as white infants, report shows” - - Ana Faguy, Baltimore Sun
 Report: Even in Md.’s Wealthiest County, Health Disparities Persist” - - Josh Kurtz, Maryland  Matters

From the report:

While Howard County ranks among the healthiest communities in the state and nation, we still fall short of our potential. Unfortunately, even in our county, your zip code, skin color, income and other demographic factors can determine your health in very unfair ways.

Educational studies have already shown that test scores are linked more to income than any other factor. And in Howard County we’ve recently had a big lesson on how one’s zip code determines how much expendable income parents can put into their schools’ PTA programs. The Horizon Foundation report has found results that very much follow along the same lines.

We don’t all have an equal chance in achieving positive health outcomes in Howard County.

Through this report, we are trying to re-frame the conversation on racial equity in health. We are looking at the root causes and systems and structures that contribute to and reinforce these disparities. - - Nikki Highsmith Vernick, President and CEO of the Horizon Foundation

  • Root causes
  • Systems
  • Structures
In other words, the attitudes that have created the policies and practices we have now are baked right in to the way that citizens access health care at every level. And the numbers show that the results aren’t the same depending on some very particular factors.

This is not a matter of opinion, or a thinkpiece by a politically-motivated party operative. This is a study, based on collection of data, undertaken by a respected community health foundation. I’ve already seen comments on social media which indicate that some people think that any initiative that examines equity in our community is some kind of liberal hoax. This saddens me.

How can we make any progress as a community if the desire to look at ourselves honestly is taken as a threat rather than an opportunity? How can we hope to improve policies and practices if anecdotal evidence is quoted to refute the results of scientific inquiry?

In some ways I almost wonder if the study we need from the Horizon Foundation is one on how to inform citizens (of differing zip codes, skin color, income, and other demographic factors) of how Horizon Foundation studies and reports are made. How information is collected and analyzed. The qualifications of the researchers. The goals of a study.

As in so many areas where we seek to address equity; those who already get it, get it. And the rest either don’t know, are apathetic, or outright hostile. 

Perhaps a study on how empathy is developed and sustained is warranted. We sure need more of it in Howard County.

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