The conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work, learn, play, and age greatly impact our health. When those conditions are poor, our health outcomes are worse. For many living in Cincinnati, Ohio, those conditions are very poor because many are living in poverty.
We see the negative impact of these poor conditions in the health outcomes of our population. Our infant mortality rate is nearly double the national average. Huge numbers of children living in Cincinnati miss school because of their uncontrolled asthma. Syphilis continues to be a problem. We see the impact most obviously in the uneven distribution of life expectancy in our city.
Cincinnati contains abundant social services designed to serve those living in poverty and address the social determinants of health. However, collaboration and communication between social services and the healthcare world is significantly lacking. Physicians and other healthcare providers are trained to address the medical needs of their patients, but not necessarily the complex social needs of their patients. According to a 2011 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study, an overwhelming majority of physicians are not confident in their capacity to address their patients' social needs.
In fact, no standard procedure or process exists to address social determinants of health in healthcare settings. Information regarding the proper community resources that address social determinants of health is not centrally located nor easy to access. The solution is multi-faceted, but revolves around communication and collaboration between the social services and the healthcare world. We need to form stronger, city-wide relationships between the healthcare world and social services in Cincinnati.
Our work revolves around promoting the communication and collaboration necessary to form these stronger, city-wide relationships. We are students committed to improving the conditions in which our neighbors and community members are born, grow, live, work, learn, play, and age. We are starting small, but planning big.
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