As our healthcare system has grown more and more costly and complex, it has exposed health disparities and failures of a supposedly advanced and innovative American medical system. Each of us has a story of our own that complicates the reality of medicine in America. These tensions only intensify for medically underserved communities. That is where a Community Health League, an organization dedicated to improving “non-medical” aspects of health for a community, comes in. At Launch, we aim not to solve all of the problems in healthcare, but to focus on building strong relationships between patients and the doctors, nurses, therapists, surgeons, interpreters, and other healthcare professionals who work with them.
More often than not, language barriers and misunderstandings prevent people from trusting and seeking care from healthcare workers. Some are burdened by the financial costs and insurance premiums, others by the historical discrimination of minority populations by medical personnel.
But inequitable healthcare is not just an economic or historical issue. It is also a problem of geography, age, race, gender, and sexuality.
That is why Christian Bogardus, President & CEO of Launch Community Health League brought together a team to confront these issues. From living in Pittsburgh, to rural West Virginia, and now Lancaster where he currently volunteers as an EMT, Christian has witnessed first-hand how these problems manifest in different communities. Amidst a global pandemic that is disproportionately affecting medically-underserved communities, he decided that now is the time to take action.
On top of having an online presence that highlights current and historical trends in medicine, we at Launch CHL collaborate with community members and healthcare professionals in an effort to build trusting relationships, to dismantle barriers, and to work towards high-quality healthcare for everyone. Our operations take on a three-pronged approach: Community events, resource navigation, and information outreach.
Community Events<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">We understand that the current healthcare system dehumanizes the patient-doctor relationship for a variety of reasons, but most noticeably due to the limited face-to-face time a patient has in the clinic with his or her provider. When doctors have to rush through patients to stay on schedule, and the patients struggle with a whole host of challenges that textbooks fail to adequately address, how can we expect respectful <em>and </em>excellent care? We at Launch Community Health League believe this is not an either-or situation. Yes, dialogue is severely limited in the clinic or hospital. But by incorporating providers of color and specialists of diverse backgrounds into our community-based events such as meet and greets and appointment preparedness workshops, we are able to facilitate that much-needed communication between the two sides. Doctors can provide both respectful <em>and</em> excellent care, and a patient can leave healthier <em>and </em>happier, only if both sides are given the tools and space to build connections before entering the stressful clinical environment.
The healthcare industry—from insurance and pharmaceuticals, to emergency care and mental health—is a complex system, especially in medically underserved communities. Launch CHL aims to work with community members to help navigate the many resources that are available to them. Language barriers are a particular challenge not only for patients and their families, but also for doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. All too often, medical interpreters are costly or difficult to access, and medical professionals experience added emotional and psychological stress when dealing with patients who do not speak English fluently. Unsurprisingly, these two issues, and others, combine to adversely affect the health of patients. We hope to inform the community members and the medical professionals who provide care with the resources and knowledge to address these types of issues to improve patient care.
At the intersection of resource navigation and community events is information outreach. A common disconnect arises when a misunderstanding occurs between the doctor and the patient due to the imbalance in medical knowledge. Of course a patient lacks medical knowledge compared to doctors and nurses who have studied for many years, but patient understanding and consent is imperative for long-term healthy living. This blog, pamphlets, brochures, social media, and other information dispersal will help eliminate misinformation and misconceptions on both sides of the patient-doctor relationship. Launch CHL wants to balance the playing field, so that any power dynamic in the clinic is eliminated. Once the patient-doctor relationship loses its expert-novice connotation and instead signifies a trusting neighbor-to-neighbor relationship, only then can health outcomes for medically underserved communities meaningfully improve.
But why a league?
Even though we are based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Launch Community Health League aims to expand our network to help medically underserved communities around the country. By initiating and sustaining grassroots Community Health initiatives across many medically underserved locations, we create a collection, a league, of people dedicated to eliminating barriers to high-quality, equitable healthcare.
Launch Community Health League: Empowering Patients. Engaging Providers.