Health Equity in Florida: A Student’s Perspective
Manatee Community Foundation is fortunate to participate in growing Florida’s next generation of leaders by investing in scholarships and in programs at nonprofit organizations that support student success. We also enjoy learning from our youth. There is so much to be gained by listening.
Our 2022 Southeast High School intern Nakeisha Georges recently graduated and is moving on to State College of Florida this summer, where she is preparing for a career in nursing. (Go Nakeisha!)
With her natural passion for health care came a desire to learn more about health disparities and health equity in Florida. We have learned from her research and perspectives.
“Equity has been more recognized and talked about more since mid-pandemic,” said Ms. Georges.
She delved into important research including a study highlighted by WUSF in a November 2021 broadcast that discussed racial inequities in Florida’s health care system. Stephanie Colombini reported on the Commonwealth Fund study.
The study includes information on preventable mortality rate for Black individuals, shown to be about 1.5 times higher than it was for Whites.
Ms. Georges says, “Equity in our health systems is something we need to strongly work on so the next generation will not have such big issues with fatalities in people of color and minorities.”
“If we give our community the resources and education on these issues, people will take charge and work to change the system. If we teach the young teens/tweens more in-depth about the issues in our system (and not just through only one chapter of the history of slavery), we can do more in our state and through the course of history of health care.“
Ms. Georges goes on to quote Dr. Laurie Zephyrin, vice president of advancing health equity with the Commonwealth Fund who said in the WUSF story, “…the pandemic has highlighted the impact of structural racism and how not having access to adequate housing, having access to health insurance or having the ability to work from home really impacts health and health care.”
These heavy issues leave a lot for our community to think about and to do, but we have great hope in the interest of so many people–including young people–who want to see better health outcomes for everyone.
As Ms. Georges continues her education journey, she will do it through the lens of making health access and care better for all. The next few weeks, she will be working with the Multicultural Health Institute in Manatee and Sarasota counties, led by Dr. Lisa Merritt. The organization has received grants from Manatee Community Foundation to support its work providing access to quality health information and health care to our communities.