Take a look at the figure above. On the left is what equality looks like. The people involved all have a platform on which to stand. Now look right. The size of the platform is adjusted to the height of the person so that everyone has the same ability to reach the fruit. This is equity, and we are weaving equity measures into all of the services and programs in the West Piedmont Health District.
Health equity is meeting people where they are and making sure they have access in a way that makes sense to them. Take COVID vaccines for example. Given that not everyone has access to the internet, are we providing equity to all if we only provide only an online registration system? No. Is the COVID vaccine only available at the health department? No way. We work with community partners to ensure that vaccines are accessible to all based on the needs of those who wish to receive them -- by pharmacies, doctor’s offices, hospitals, in homes, at churches, and at schools. In this way, issues like not being able to schedule a vaccine during regular working hours is not a barrier. When pharmacy partners extend their hours so that those who work during the day can still receive a vaccine, that is equity at work. It is just one way equity is changing how we do things.
Those of us in public health employ equity our daily work to make sure that lack of access, communication, or other barriers do not prevent people getting the health care they need. We use it when we make special accommodations for employees and when we plan events.
Equity in the West Piedmont Health District
The lack of equity has been declared public health crisis. All Virginians deserve equitable access to resources and information to help them achieve their health and quality of life goals. The Commonwealth of Virginia has created a state-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy. House Bill 1993 codified the ONE Virginia Plan which outlines steps that increase diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) across 100 state agencies in the Commonwealth and public institutions of higher education.
As part of this plan, an Equity-at-a-Glance dashboard provides a transparent assessment of social determinants of health and other factors contributing to health equity. Above are four images representing the area served by West Piedmont Health District. Click on the thumbnails to go to the dashboard to explore equity measures for our district.