Cleveland Clinic Akron General has launched a new fundraising effort – called Neighbor to Neighbor – to expand efforts to increase health care access for those affected by health disparities in Summit County.
“Great disparities in health care access exist here in our own backyard,” said Akron General President Dr. Brian Harte. “Many of our neighbors live without health care basics, like primary care and pregnancy wellness. Residents of Summit County and the City of Akron rank lower than Ohio and the U.S. on key health indicators and social determinants of health. We must increase our efforts to change this situation.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed disparities in health care access and outcomes for communities of color, the health system said. While African Americans represent 15 percent of the population in Summit County, nearly 24 percent of individuals infected with COVID-19 are African American.
“Systemic racism is real and causes the disparate outcomes we see across health care including COVID-19,” Harte said. “Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Akron General are committed to promoting racial equity and ending racism that too often results in health disparities.”
Akron General officials said the health care system “is positioned to address health disparities identified in Akron and Summit County as urgent: infant mortality, chronic disease management and early treatment for cancer.”
The fundraising effort will provide money to support new initiatives and expand existing programs. During this philanthropic effort, funds raised will create or expand:
• A COVID-19 testing site in downtown Akron at 676 South Broadway in partnership with United Way, along with outreach to African American residents.
• Community health programs such as the Minority Men’s Health Fair and Centering Pregnancy.
• Education of the next generation of family physicians with an emphasis on social determinants of health and retaining those physicians to serve in the heart of Akron.
• Expanded wrap-around support for patients, such as frequent follow-up calls from social workers and nurses, at Akron General’s Center for Family Medicine.
“Tackling health care disparities is a community priority, and we are most effective when we are collaborating and leveraging each other’s strengths,” said Theresa Carter, past board president of the Akron General Medical Center.
As a nonprofit organization, Akron General relies on philanthropy as a crucial catalyst for programs that improve the lives of residents across Summit County, it said. All contributions to Akron General stay local to make a local impact.
“Resources from Cleveland Clinic Akron General and collaborations with community organizations will underpin these efforts over the next three years,” said Mark Lerner, chair of the Akron General Medical Center Philanthropy Committee. “To fully realize the potential of this vision, we will also need philanthropic leaders in Summit County who share the belief that access to health care is a necessity and creates thriving families and communities.”
Contributions to can be made by visiting https://give.ccf.org/akrongeneral and choosing “Neighbor to Neighbor.”
Beacon Journal consumer columnist and medical reporter Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected] Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at www.beaconjournal.com/topics/linfisher