Social determinants are the economic and social conditions that influence individual and group differences in healthcare status.
Dr. Fedi Alzeidan, president of the medical staff at Methodist Hospitals, cited transportation challenges for people to either make medical appointments or travel to stores for medications or healthy groceries.
Maria Turpin, a state navigator for Medicaid, pointed to issues in the Hispanic community, including joblessness or having multiple jobs, leaving no time to cook healthy meals.
Allyson Vaulx, director of development for Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, cited a need to focus on access to quality foods. During 2019, she said, the food bank distributed 6.1 million pounds of food. According to its website, the nonprofit agency works with more than 100 food pantries and soup kitchens in Lake and Porter counties.
During breakout sessions on food access and affordability, council members provided additional for Methodist as it develops a tactical plan for the next several years.
Group suggestions included the following:
• meeting people where they are in providing healthy options
• offering cooking classes in schools as part of the curriculum
• partnering with businesses such as Whole Foods or Trader Joes in providing healthy options
• doing things together at home as a family
• exposing people to healthy foods
• increasing the number of grocery stores in communities
• promoting nutrition at an early age
• teaching gardening and food preservation
• educating on dietary needs
• holding merchants accountable, to assist in providing food
• taking a dual-generational approach to education about healthy foods
• holding events to promote healthy behaviors
“We want to create a plan where children can become healthy adults,” Dillard said. “We need people to be resources, not just providers, so we can all do what we do well, and do it together.”
Franciscan Health and Community Healthcare System conducted similar surveys for the communities they serve.
Results of the Methodist Hospitals’ CHNA survey are available online at www.methodisthospitals.org.