By Brenda Robinson
Fort Wayne, as with every American city, has gotten a lot of things wrong. Yet, with all the things Fort Wayne has gotten wrong, they got it right with placing a health clinic in southeast Fort Wayne. The new facility, Parkview Neighborhood Health Center on Paulding Road, is ‘sho nuf’ good news. Southeast Fort Wayne was designated an underserved area by the federal government. However, the federal government wasn’t the only group with such an assessment. Reasonable, thinking people need only to view other city areas, specifically the Dupont region, north, West Jefferson and the “new”southwest. Upon inspection, a likely response would be, “what is going on?”
Kathleen Sebelius, a President Barack Obama cabinet appointee, heads up the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This department attempted to define underserved populations. According to this federal entity people who do not have adequate access to health care are underserved. This office contends underserved citizens may be poor, uninsured, have limited English language proficiency, and lack a familiarity with the health care delivery system or live in areas where providers are not readily available to meet their health needs. And, of course, it gets racial. Although being black or a minority does not make a particular group underserved, they are disproportionately economically deprived, which promotes being underserved.
Being underserved produces a multitude of health problems. Reportedly, the quality of care is affected. Primary care physicians who treat predominantly black patients report being able to provide high quality care to all their patients, at a higher rate than similar physicians who treat a predominantly white population. Hispanics and Asians, on average, reported waiting longer than white patients to get a doctor appointment. Hispanics further reported being less likely to receive recommended screenings such as cholesterol and cancer screenings (colorectal and cervical) relative to others. Finally, racial and ethnic minorities, in general, are less likely to have received a pneumococcal vaccination, a dental visit in the past year, and first trimester prenatal care (women) than the equivalent non-minority population.
Black people have higher percentage incidents of death from heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, nephritis (kidney), chronic lower respiratory disease, homicide, septicemia, and alzheimers. Nationally, health care for blacks and other ethnic groups is at crisis levels.
We applaud the joint effort of Parkview Health and Neighborhood Health Clinics in making this facility a reality. While this one building will not solve all the health problems, movement is in the right direction. And, another message is generated, being Fort Wayne supports the Affordable Health Care initiative, an important piece of any health care equity. Sometimes, given the conservative history of Fort Wayne and the state of Indiana, with the exception of northwest, social, health, and economic programs for underserved populations are neglected.
Our hope is the Parkview Neighborhood Health Center will grow to become as impressive as its name. Within the expansion and along with adding a physician, we await so much more.
The urgency can best be shown through the lyrics of an old school song, made popular by Martha and the Vandellas, “Dancing in the Streets.” Lets have some fun with lyrics…
Martha and her group sang:
“There is an invitation across the nation, a chance for folks to meet. They’ll be laughing, singing, and music playing and dancing in the streets. They’re dancing in Chicago, down in New Orleans, up in New York City, Philadelphia, P.A., Baltimore and D.C., and don’t forget the Motor City.”
The new health facility is sending an invitation across Fort Wayne. This center is a chance for folks to meet and get superior medical care. This could be a joyous occasion, dancing in the streets would be in order. However, we have to call out for specialist, just as Martha and the Vandellas called for cities to dance in the celebration. For the underserved group with disproportionately incidents of kidney, heart, and lung diseases, and cancer and diabetes, this is our invitation:
“We want dancing from nephrologist, cardiologist, pulmonologist,oncologist, endocrinologists, (and as Martha didn’t want to leave out the Motor City), don’t forget the opthamologist.”