As a system dedicated to improving the health of all Hoosiers, IU Health knows that factors outside hospitals and doctors’ offices affect individuals’ abilities to live healthy lives. In fact, only 20% of a person’s overall well-being is dependent on healthcare: the other 80% is due to socioeconomic factors (education, employment, family, income and community); physical environment (such as neighborhoods that are heavily polluted or water systems using lead pipes); and choices and behaviors (the use of tobacco and alcohol, diet, exercise and sexual activity).
While these social determinants of health affect a wide range of individuals and families, it has become increasingly clear that they have a disproportionate impact on minority and other underserved populations.
And that’s why Indiana University Health and IU Health Foundation are specifically targeting those populations with programs that work. “We have to ensure that every person is empowered to live their best lives,” said Brownsyne Tucker Edmonds, MD, IU Health vice president and chief health equity officer.
To leverage support from donors who want to be part of the solution, IU Health Foundation created the Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund. Dr. Tucker Edmonds said the fund was created to work on three fronts: increasing the number of people of color in IU Health leadership and retaining employees who are early in their careers; improving relationships between clinicians and patients through expanded translation services and technology; and increasing training for IU Health employees who interact with patients and families who exhibit racist, sexist or other behaviors contrary to IU Health’s culture and values.
Donors have also supported the creation of the new Mosaic Center for Work, Life and Learning, which Starla Hart, the center’s director, said will support underserved communities with services including housing access, personal financial education, addiction services, mental healthcare and more.
Slated to open in 2023, a big part of the Mosaic Center’s focus will be on career counseling and job training, with a special emphasis on helping people prepare for careers in healthcare. “By connecting unemployed and underemployed individuals to education, support and job training the center will serve as an invaluable pipeline to good-paying jobs in health and life sciences all around the state,” Hart said.
This focus aligns with work being done to develop a more diverse workforce at IU Health. Ovell Barbee, IU Health’s senior vice president and chief human resources officer, said this effort is focusing both internally and externally, and strives to increase career advancement opportunities for people who work at IU Health and to increase community understanding about the skills required to work in healthcare and the opportunities available to become a part of the IU Health team.
“Part of our outreach is identifying sources of diverse talent and helping them understand that we’re interested and engaged in making sure our workforce reflects the diversity that exists in the community,” Barbee said.
Through these varied approaches, IU Health, IU Health Foundation and generous donors like you, are focusing not just on improving healthcare for all populations, but on ensuring that there is as much equity as possible in the way the community addresses the many factors beyond healthcare that affect the health of Hoosiers.
You can help support programs like this when you make a gift to the Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund. Make your donation on our giving page, select “IU Health Statewide” as the location, and direct your gift to the “Statewide Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund.”