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Health Equity in the City of Sanford

Sanford Equity Task Force members Vernadette Williams, Vonda Reives, Trina Garrison, and UNC BIC team member Daniela Cerón have been working hard over the past six months to research local health inequities, discuss data and create a list of recommendations for the Sanford City Council. They are part of the health sub-committee of the Sanford Equity Task Force, created in 2020 to dismantle racial and ethnic disparities in the City.

Vonda Reives, a Family Nurse Practitioner and Lee County resident, is one of the many local experts taking part in the equity process. Her commitment to her community and her deep knowledge of community histories and areas of concern make her perspective invaluable to the Task Force. “Community means that we are all connected. You have to appreciate the good and be concerned about the bad.” As a healthcare professional, she stated that a common health inequity is inaccessibility to health care for individuals who work minimum wage-paying jobs that do not offer health insurance. She described “…They make too much to qualify for Medicaid and they and their children may not have access to insurance, so they are not able to get a well-child visit, have acute care or care for chronic illnesses.” Sanford and Lee County residents have reported that their greatest health concern was “lack of health insurance” and “insurance not covering the service” (2018 Lee County Health Assessment).

The health subcommittee has also collaborated with other health care experts to better inform and support their recommendations for the Sanford City Council. They invited Sandra Thompson, LCSW, at Spectrum Recovery Inc., a local healthcare service, to speak about the opioid and mental health crisis. Her informative discussion provided a greater understanding of how mental health and drug use are interconnected and she shared her recommendations to improve health outcomes in the Sanford community. Another local expert invited to speak was Dr. William Hall, a retired physician who provides health care opportunities for the homeless population weekly across various locations in Sanford. His experience as a physician in Sanford for thirty years couple with his current work with H3 (a local health initiative) and Bread of Life (a local non-profit organization) provided further insight into the health inequities across Sanford. These health care experts have been crucial in the development of strategic and equitable goals for the city.

BIC team member Daniela Cerón is a second-year master’s student in the UNC School of Social Work and has been essential in the health-related work of the Task Force. When asked about a highlight of her work in Sanford, she stated “I’ve been able to build relationships and learn more about what health equity looks like from amazing women who bring lots of experience and ideas to the table.” Through her research on health disparities among Sanford residents and facilitation in the health subcommittee, she has directly related her studies in the School of Social work to the community work in Sanford.

health subcommittee

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