Building an equitable and inclusive space in the healthcare ecosystem where everyone - research and health program participants, partners, and employees - can belong and feel valued is a foundational pillar of Evidation’s mission. National Minority Health Month provides an excellent opportunity for us to reflect on ways health and racial equity can be improved.
To further our understanding of how to advance health equity, Evidation invited our Heart Health Community Ambassador, Dr. Reverend Patrick Gee – who brings a wealth of engagement expertise, intellect, and community building to Evidation’s programming – to share what this month means to him.
Building a New Table, Together
Min. Patrick O. Gee, Ph.D., i Advocate and Community Ambassador, Evidation
Most organizations do not think of themselves as performing ministerial duties for others due to the religious aspect of the word, but this is far from the truth: In fact, the term simply centers on acts of service to others.
We as a society are obligated to serve others regardless of ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. We serve others every day without calling ourselves a minister. When we help someone with their grocery bags, that is ministry. When we encourage someone during troubling times, that is ministry. When we provide a service that helps others manage their health, we minister. What we do for others before we do for ourselves is ministry.
When I think about my particular ministry, it is a cross-cultural one: We must not only serve our communities and our cultures, but also other communities and cultures that may not look like us, talk like us, or think like us.
I first met Bray Patrick-Lake, Senior Director of Partnerships at Evidation, during the 2020 Cardiovascular Clinical Trialists Forum. After the panel discussion, we connected on our shared values, ethics, interests and advocacy. Bray genuinely wanted to know me. We broke racial barriers by not focusing on just race, but instead on a humanitarian effort to restore what had been a missing component to racial reconciliation. We broke bread without any biases, but with the celebration of two human beings from different backgrounds, genders, and ethnic groups, coming together in an attempt to learn about each other and do good for patients and communities. In June 2021, Evidation invited me to become a Community Ambassador for their Heart Health program, and later that year, we launched a collaboration with a faith-based organization called Project TECH, which serves an intergenerational community in Columbia, SC and along the Atlantic seaboard.
The relationship is rooted in listening, shared agreements, and co-design. This work helps bridge the inequitable gap between digital health and the Black community. As a team, we have established the metaphorical table as a safe environment to discuss cultural differences as they relate to health and experiences with digital technology, and how we can build products and programs to better support communities. Together, we talk openly about how the Black community is impacted by social determinants of health – the economic, cultural, environmental, and access issues that can make health harder to attain. The Evidation team broaches these topics with clear eyes and empathy with a focus on healing, and does not offer platitudes or unrealistic solutions.
We have learned and practiced the following, in order to lead our work with community and equity at the center:
• Educate yourself with the intent to understand the history and experiences of the people you serve.
• Ask questions and don’t try to solve all the problems in one day.
• Become more aware of someone else’s world by visiting the community.
• Seek out a friend or ministry partner who is more familiar with that community, school, or ethnic group.
• Have faith that progress will happen if you create an environment of power sharing, mutual respect, and value.
Evidation and Project TECH have demonstrated that when groups from different backgrounds come together with openness and a mindset of co-learning to create new ways to measure and improve health in everyday life, together, we can build a more equitable and healthy future for all
If you would like to learn more about how Evidation is partnering with community based organizations to make healthcare more equitable for all by leveraging digital health technology, email firstname.lastname@example.org.