As COVID-19 spread across our country, the inequalities that plague our most vulnerable and underrepresented communities was never clearer. The CHEST Foundation decided it was time to cast a spotlight on the issue.
On September 17, 2020, an online conversation took place in Jackson, Mississippi. Local health care experts, community resource groups, civic leaders, and patients were invited to talk about the state of pulmonary health care in their communities and the barriers to treatment they face. This marked the beginning of a five-visit virtual CHEST Foundation Listening Tour, the most passion-driven project we’ve ever undertaken in our philanthropic work.
“Asking these hard questions about health care in a community-led forum had never really been done by us. We tend to think we know the answers before we actually listen. That’s what made this different,” said Rudy Anderson, Executive Director of the CHEST Foundation.
The tour continued with listening events for New York, Chicago, South Texas, and the Southwest, each reinforcing the universal issues of access, trust, environmental impact, and equitable resources. Hardest of all was both the overt and underlying knowledge that race and socioeconomic played a significant role in creating and sustaining health care disparities.
Supported in its efforts by the Erin Popovich Endowment, the Listening Tour recorded the conversations, prepared summary reports and facts-sheets, and secured media coverage of the tour, which can all be viewed on the foundation website. Using the information gathered, the foundation will embark on next steps in 2021, focusing on education, resources, and funding supports for health equity programs.