Health DEPOTS to offer more access, advocacy for better health

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A new program will improve access to health screenings, services and information by placing health care professionals in popular locations around Springfield.

The Health DEPOTS program aims to create a safe space for individuals to take charge of their health through improved health literacy and advocacy. (DEPOTS is an acronym for Delivering Equity Places Outside Traditional Settings.)

The project is a collaboration between SIU School of Medicine’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and faith-based and community organizations like the Springfield Urban League and local NAACP chapter.

“Increasing access to health care in underserved areas is one of many ways that we address health inequities,” said Marcus Johnson, president and CEO of the Springfield Urban League. “COVID-19 has increased existing gaps in care. This partnership and community health care outreach strategy is designed to build a bridge that reduces it.”

“SIU School of Medicine has committed to being an antiracist institution, and we consider our partnerships with the community to be fundamental,” said Wendi El-Amin, MD, associate dean of equity, diversity and inclusion at SIU. “The new Health DEPOTS program allows us to build a greater level of trust and create more spaces for health education.”

“We want people to find us in the places they normally frequent and be able to get screened or monitored for hypertension, diabetes and obesity,” she said.

The medical school is providing equipment for the Health DEPOTS and training health ambassadors to properly use the equipment. The DEPOTS will be located in community centers, churches, schools and other neighborhood gathering places.

“With increasing racial and ethnic diversity in our nation, it is important to use a culturally oriented approach to address the health needs of the community,” said Taiwo Akinsoji, MD, program coordinator of culturally responsive health initiatives at SIU Medicine.

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