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Community Health Charities recently held its second invitation-only health convening in New York City, hosted by PwC. This breakfast brought together leading companies and organizations to discuss social determinants of health – factors such as inequity or lack of access that impact health – and share in solutions-oriented conversations to improve employee and community health. Speakers included leaders from American ExpressChevronPwC, CUNY University Graduate School of Public Health, and Liberation Health Strategies.

Topics discussed included: lack of access to primary care, injustice and inequity, poor eating habits, health policy reform, the benefits of companies developing stronger health cultures, reducing the stigma around mental health, and more. Highlights from speakers:

  • Joxel Garcia of American Express shared how health challenges vary by location. One area may have more chronic diseases and another primarily diagnosed with a single disease like cancer. Dr. Garcia also explained that to create change regarding social determinants of health (SDOH) in underserved communities, we must understand the root causes of poor health habits in those communities. Many people cannot afford healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. They do not have safe neighborhoods, reliable transportation, parks and playgrounds. Data and metrics can demonstrate the ROI of improved employee and community health and encourage company leadership to address social determinants of health, to provide employee health clinics, and more. Dr. Garcia also suggested companies use a “stealth diet” (stealth health) in cafeterias by offering healthier food and providing clear nutrition labeling.
  • Alex Cunningham of Chevron shared how his company is working to help de-stigmatize mental health. Mental health is more than someone diagnosed with a disease, it’s not always incapacitating, and it impacts almost all of us. Chevron wants to develop a culture that encourages employees to take advantage of company resources.
  • Ayman El-Mohandes of CUNY discussed how it is discriminatory to assume all poor people are unhealthy and the wealthy are healthy. Social determinants of health is a disease. It’s a “life reality index” that affects poor and rich alike. Health habits are learned early. People learn to eat cheaply when they can’t afford to eat healthy, even in college, and then end up with a cheap palate. Loneliness and isolation are other factors impacting health. It will take all of us collectively working together to address these different issues.
  • Natalie Teear of PwC shared that to change the issues surrounding SDOH, people need to rally around policy reform and work with congress to update health policies. Teear also discussed the benefit of flexible work schedules to provide employees with time to exercise as well as spend time with family and friends and build community.

Thank you again to PwC for hosting this convening and to all our distinguished panelists. Community Health Charities is committed to building stronger, healthier communities. Check out our previous event in Atlanta https://healthcharities.org/workforce-communityhealthrecap/ or read more about social determinants of health. https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/health-sciences/blog/what-is-community-health/

Check out the program and event photos.