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RWJF Interview with Cuyahoga County PLACE MATTERS Team: Redefining Health

PLACE MATTERS is a national initiative of the Joint Center, designed to build the capacity of local leaders around the country to identify and improve social, economic, and environmental conditions that shape health. Interviews with six of the PLACE MATTERS teams were featured last week in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s NewPublicHealth blog. Follow along as we post excerpts throughout the week on why #PlaceMatters is key to eliminating health disparities.

Below is an excerpt from the Cuyahoga County, Ohio PLACE MATTERS team:

Health is not simply the absence of disease—health begins where people live, work, learn, age and play. Health includes the social conditions one lives in, such as the jobs we do, the money we’re paid, the schools we attend and the neighborhoods we live in, as well as our genes, our behaviors and our medical care…

Team co-leader Sandra Chappelle, who is also the senior program officer for Strong Communities at the Saint Luke’s Foundation in Cleveland, said that a health equity lens is often not used simply because people aren’t aware of the type of policies that have set the conditions that are creating inequitable results in communities.

“That’s why our team is working fast to inform and influence and engage policy makers, so that there’s an increased awareness of how past practices have created equitable results and actually producing poor health outcomes to this day,” she said.

Chappelle said the team has been trying to increase the level of understanding around “this new, redefined approach to public health, so that people don’t believe that health is shaped solely by access to health care and things like standards of care, which are important, but we do believe that the social and economic conditions in which people live are the factors that greatly influence health outcomes.”

Click here to read the full interview.

Morgan McLeod is the Program Assistant and New Media Strategist at the Joint Center