In 2020, at the start of the devasting COVID-19 health crisis, Cambia’s philanthropy team saw the potential for the pandemic to disproportionately impact communities of color. Since then, we have been listening and learning to affect systemic change. In a recent interview with Modern Healthcare magazine, Cambia Health Foundation President Peggy Maguire reflects on the persistence of systemic racism in many institutions, including health care, and the intimate role that Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) like education, employment, food security, safe housing, and transportation play in determining ones’ overall health and well-being.
“My thinking about addressing social determinants of health has changed over the last year. I’m just really seeing many more connections between things and thinking about the need to address change at the roots to get at the cause of some of these issues.”
— Peggy Maguire, Cambia Health Foundation President
Also featured in the article was longtime community partner Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center (VGMHC), which provides advocacy, outreach and patient-centered care to several of Oregon’s BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) communities. Through this work, connections between SDOH and the recent civil unrest related to racial justice have come into focus for physicians and for Cambia.
Dr. Eva Galvez, who works for VGMHC’s 17-clinic network, found herself having more conversations with her patients about how work settings could influence their COVID-19 susceptibility, and how race impacts their health at large.
“For me, it’s just more of an acknowledgment about how racism ties into health. I’m not taking my patients off the hook. I still want to try to help them make good choices. But I think that if I acknowledge (systemic racism) within the room, that also opens up trust and then it makes me more effective.” — Dr. Eva Galvez
Building on the $15 million Cambia philanthropically invested in health equity prior to the pandemic, Cambia continues to work alongside community partners to improve the health, well-being and quality of life for people and families in our communities. There is still an incredible amount of work to do to address health disparities and racial injustice - by working together, we can ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to live the healthiest life possible.
Learn more about Cambia’s commitment to building an equitable health care system in Modern Healthcare’s article How Portland's healthcare institutions are working to build back trust with Black Lives Matter protesters.