One of the most important aspects of home health and community health outreach is the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of people who fall through the cracks or are poorly served by the “traditional” healthcare system. Bringing health care into the community breaks down access barriers and enhances clinician understanding of social and family aspects of healthcare that may not be as evident in the more sterile institutional settings. The enhanced access and holistic approach can be the difference between suffering and health, life and death – especially for vulnerable populations whose needs can be overlooked or poorly understood. At VNA Health Group, we are on the front lines of healthcare for families living in poverty, immigrants, racial and ethnic minorities, people living with disabilities, people living with mental illness, the LGBT community, and rural communities.
It has been over 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King pointed out that “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Dr. King’s advocacy and conscience raising helped inspire numerous successful efforts to reduce inequality and disparities in healthcare. There has been notable progress, but still much work remains.
The issue of racial health disparities in pregnancy and infant care in New Jersey is an urgent current issue, as is the increasing drug overdose and suicide death rates for people with high school education or less.
Unfortunately, these disparities are part of a long list of statistics that remind of the uneven progress, the ongoing struggles of too many, and the desperate need for solutions.
Today, as our Country recognizes and reflects on the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King—let’s honor his contributions by bringing energy and passion to our work in home and community health. Home and community health programs are essential for a healthcare system that works for everyone and reduces disparities. I am thankful for the excellent staff at VNA Health Group and everything they are doing to bring care and compassion into the communities we serve