Podcast Ep. 94: A Public Health Perspective on DEI and Health Equity

May 25, 2022

In this episode of The Forum Podcast Dr. Harry Petaway (Equity Communities of Practice) chats with us on how social determinants of health are interlaced with DEI and collaborative approach to health equity.

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Topics covered in this episode
  • What is Health Equity
  • Why is health equity all of our responsibility
  • How corporate and community DEI initiatives influence health equity
  • Who’s responsible for health equity?
  • How do corporate and community DEI initiatives influence Health Equity?
  • How can organizations like the Forum on Workplace Inclusion help achieve Health Equity?
  • What can we do as individuals to help Health Equity?

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The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.

Speaker 1 (00:00):
The Forum on Workplace inclusion’s 2022 podcast series is sponsored by Best Buy more diversity in tech means more ideas that can change the world. Learn more@bestbuy.com/moreofthis.
Speaker 1 (00:16):
Our deep dive learning opportunity is returning this June, the Forum on Workplace inclusions, professional development labs, sponsored by target. Join us on June 23rd for purpose and belonging. Two key ingredients for an inclusive culture with Brandon Peele, author of purpose work nation and CEO of unity lab join Peele and others from the unity lab team to learn how to activate purpose, belonging, and inclusion on your teams and effectively lead diverse teams, professional development labs, or PDLs are half day interactive learning experiences intended to develop professional competencies that support leaders in reaching their next level in their DEI leadership. Unlike traditional workshop sessions, PDLs are goal oriented and include personal and professional action and accountability planning for next level leadership that’s purpose and belonging. Two key ingredients for an inclusive culture. June 23rd, 2022. Visit our website forumworkplaceinclusion.org for more information, and to register that’s forumworkplaceinclusion.org, interested in presenting at the Forum plan to submit a proposal. When our call for proposals opens this June, the call for proposals or CFP for short is the process we use to collect presentations to be considered for our program year, which is January through December, including our annual conference proposals collected. When our CFP opens in June will be for our 2023 program year. Join our email list to get notified. Once our CFP process opens,
Speaker 1 (01:46):
We get to engage people, advance ideas and ignite change because the generous support from our community. If you find our resources meaningful or valuable, please consider supporting the Forum today. Visit forumworkplaceinclusion.org/donate that’s forumworkplaceinclusion.org/donate. Thank you very much for your support and generosity. Thank you to all our listeners and subscribers. You help support the growth of the podcast and reach new listeners. If you like what you’re hearing on the Forum podcast, please consider writing a review on apple podcast or wherever you listen to your podcast. If you’ve already written a review, thank you. Please consider sharing our podcast with a friend, family member or a colleague you think might find value in the content word of mouth is the best way the Forum grows. So thank you very much for listening and sharing. Thanks again, and enjoy the show.
Ben Rue (02:34):
Hello and thank you for tuning into the Forum Workplace Inclusion podcast series brought to you by Best Buy I’m Ben Rue program manager here at the Forum. We’re really looking forward to today’s podcast, a public health perspective on DEI and health equity with Dr. Harry Petaway of the Forum on Workplace inclusion and creator of equity communities of practice. This will be a conversation on how social determinants of health are interlaced with DEI and collaborative approach to health equity. In this podcast, we’ll discuss what is health equity? Why is health equity, all of our responsibilities and how corporate and community DEI initiatives influence health equity. Dr. Harry Petaway is the director of business development and community engagement here at the Forum and also creator of equity communities of practice. He’s a proud Michigan resident working to improve outcomes through interventions, aimed at developing and partnering with multiple industries that influence health and wellbeing.
Ben Rue (03:32):
He holds a PhD in public health from Walden university and a master’s in public administration from Western Michigan university he holds, both certified diversity, professional and certified diversity executive credentials from the Institute for diversity certification. He hosts the bi-monthly live stream titled Thursdays three at three Thursdays three at three on LinkedIn. Dr. Petaway has worked with various solutions and technologies designed to improve population health. Dr Petaway is a social impact entrepreneur and consider himself a social change agent. He is driven by meaningful work, such as his co-chair appointment with the American cancer society’s health equity initiative. He worked as a volunteer with an international research team for save the water and co-authored publications highlighting the dangers of emerging chemicals of concerns. His doctoral research examined disparities in colorectal cancer screening rates among Medicare patients enrolled in accountable care organizations in late 2021. He joined the Forum as director of business development and community outreach. He is also the co-chair of the society for diversity advocacy, community of practice and built a 90 member virtual community, committed to diversity equity and inclusion for one of the nation’s largest healthcare workforce development companies based in Nashville, Tennessee.
Ben Rue (05:06):
Thank you so much for being here, Dr. Petway it’s such a pleasure to have you.
Harry Petaway (05:10):
Thank you, Ben, and please call me Harry.
Ben Rue (05:11):
Thanks, Harry. And yeah. And welcome to the Forum team. It’s been a blast having you before we get started, could you tell us a little bit more about what you’re doing here at the Forum, your background before the Forum and what brought you to the Forum?
Harry Petaway (05:23):
Yeah, absolutely. So with the Forum, I’m the director of business development and community engagement. And so that sounds kind of fancy, but let me put it to you from a, a public health perspective, right? So what the Forum offers is this it’s, it’s this awesome conference full of content and things like that. And I’m a doctor of public health, and I look at those things as interventions. And so what my role here at the Forum is try to get more people aware of that intervention as well as participating in it.
Harry Petaway (05:54):
So from a business development standpoint, that’s what I’m doing. I’m trying to reach out to people engaging them, talking to them, you know, what’s working for you, what’s not working for you. What are some of the benefits that you get? And then just trying to get more and more people to come to the conference and then you know, trying to feed that information to you and your awesome team to, you know, to use, however, however you can before the Forum, you know, I consider myself a health equity advocate, right? And a social impact entrepreneur. And I look at everything through a public health lens and I’ve been which, which that means everything is connected, right? <Laugh> sometimes you’ll hear me go on these tangents about, oh, well, this relates to this and this relates to that. And this relates to that.
Harry Petaway (06:40):
And that comes public health. Yes, exactly. Which I’m glad there’s a neat new term for it, right? Yes. Even though it’s not that even though it’s not that new but I’ve been in and around healthcare for man since the early I’m showing my age since the, the, the mid nineties. Right. But even before that in high school and junior high, you know, I, I was in this program called gate, which is gifted and talented education. It’s not a bragging moment, but we would always try to solve world problems. Right. So, you know, environmental pollution, you know, endangered species, we did a terrorist mock oh my gosh, you know, thing. And so we were always trying to tackle tough, tough challenges. And then somewhere around the eighth grade I entered a contest of how to, you know, bridge the gap of racial discrimination, I think is what it was.
Harry Petaway (07:33):
And I, I forgot about it until I was going through my mom’s house. And I’m like, oh, I have this letter from Congress. <Laugh> for wow. For this award. So I had to change my LinkedIn page to say that I’ve been working in this, this industry for a little bit longer, but you know.
Ben Rue (07:47):
I was a peer mediator in the eighth grade, but we just mediated, you know, we solved the school, our middle school’s problems, like, you know, petty fights. <Laugh> not, not, not race, not ending racism and pollution.
Harry Petaway (08:01):
the beginnings of climate change.
Ben Rue (08:02):
you know, nowaday, we were in, we were not young Greta Thornberg’s <laugh>. We were, we were, so we were solving middle school problems, which seemed big at the time, but all that seems kind of petty now.
Harry Petaway (08:15):
<Laugh> love it, love it. So, so it’s funny how I got into in and around healthcare.
Harry Petaway (08:21):
I actually, I thought I was gonna be a rockstar growing up. So you know, it was not on my radar. And somehow I ended up with an undergrad of exercise science and community health education and community health. It kept, you know, there was something cool about that because it’s so like hands on grassroots effort, you know, that, that type of stuff, trying to, again, solve big problems. First time I heard about this thing called healthy people 2000 which is, you know, how we’re going to change the face of health in the year 2000 now little did I know that happens every 10 years, you know, so it was like, oh, 2010, there’s another one. Oh, 2020. So maybe it wasn’t as special as I, I thought it was at the time, but my like 2000 in it, everything. Yeah.
Harry Petaway (09:04):
Right. I know it was, it was real cool. You know, it’s like, is it gonna blow up or what? But my first big boy job in healthcare was with a managed Medicaid company. I had 30,000 Medicaid patients and I was in charge of teaching them how managed care work. Now, everybody knows how that works right now. You know, you go to your primary care physician, you get a referral then you can go to your specialist, but at the time I don’t know how that works. Well, there you go. So a lot of people do though, because you know, depending on your benefits level, you know, it’s a little bit of a cheaper plan, right? So you, you go to a primary care doctor, they refer you to somebody else. Then you can go see that specialist. And this was Michigan’s second attempt at managed Medicaid.
Harry Petaway (09:49):
Oh. Because their first attempt failed miserably. And I was in charge of teaching the patients and their doctors, how managed care work. First time we were dealing with things like we call it over-prescribing at the time, like drug seeking behavior. We didn’t know at the time that that was, you know, the beginning of the opioid epidemic epidemic, because that’s, you know, those were the drugs that we were looking at, computerized. Nothing was there, you know, like we didn’t have electronic medical records. But that was actually the first time that I got to talk to patients because I used to be afraid of hospitals. I didn’t wanna step in ’em didn’t wanna go there only sick people go to the hospitals, you know, you, something might happen. But when you talk to patients day in and day out, you realize these are people there’s stigma attached to people in Medicaid that is not close to who these people really are.
Harry Petaway (10:44):
And then you can really kind of see how challenging and difficult it is for people to kind of navigate through some of these systems. So I was there for quite a bit came up with some really cool program for children’s special healthcare services. When we talk about like my relationship with the Forum Steven Hemerickhouse.
Ben Rue (11:05):
Harry Petaway (11:05):
Hummer, Humrickhouse, sorry, I always wanna put the H E okay. So <laugh>, so when I talked with Steven Humrickhouse we had similar backgrounds in terms that we stumbled into these opportunities to work with kids with special needs. You know, we fought really hard and we were able to get something done and there’s something that, you know, feels, feels good about that. The challenge that I had at the time with Medicaid is it wasn’t really wasn’t paying the bills.
Ben Rue (11:35):
mm-hmm <affirmative>.
Harry Petaway (11:36):
And so I ventured out into the sales world starting as a pharmaceutical rep, which is an industry story in itself, but I tend to ended up with products that had to do with what we call population health. Right? So these would things be these would things like electronic medical records, health information exchanges. So when your doctor can share information with a doctor in another state, or just a doctor across, you know, town, you know, that type of thing, electronic medical records that would trigger like, Hey, Ben, hasn’t had his, you know, A1C test. Maybe he should have one in various like services and things like that that would help people start to analyze data and look at it ways. And, and typically it had to do with you know, trying to have a healthier workforce, right? Those are, those are some of the first people that are looking at it, like how can we have our employees more productive and healthy?
Harry Petaway (12:34):
But you know, all that together, all those different industries really started to scope that intersectionality piece of man, if we get together, <laugh> right. If we could pull all these pieces together, maybe we could do something with you know, to, to make things better. How I got to the Forum was really unique. You know, I had been working on a project where I was looking for. We used the term content for a lot of things, but like e-content training,
Ben Rue (13:08):
mm-hmm <affirmative>.
Harry Petaway (13:08):
for diversity equity inclusion. This is around the, you know, post George Floyd when everybody was looking for, for some of that. And I, you know, critical, I, everybody in their grandmother has a DEI, something out there.
Ben Rue (13:24):
mm-hmm <affirmative>.
Harry Petaway (13:24):
and then here comes the Forum. And the more I tried to put the Forum through my, you know, my academic lens and trying to poke holes in it, it was really interesting to see that, you know, the Forum had been around for 34 years.
Harry Petaway (13:36):
Right. That was the first one Forum was way before. Yeah. George Floyd, and not a single person that I talked to about the Forum had anything bad to say. Reputation was off the chart. When I started looking at content online you know, it was y’all were talking about abilities, people aren’t talking about abilities, you were just touching on every corner of DEI, which is a dangerous term diversity equity inclusion, you know, maybe a little bit more with health equity. <Laugh> maybe we could do a little more with health equity. But when I, when I actually had a chance to finally start to meet the people from the Forum and see the team, see the passion, the commitment to see the magic, you know, that, that puts on this, this great event, you know, I was, I was sold. And so it’s, it’s just an honor to be here.
Harry Petaway (14:31):
You know, as a peer and as a guest finally, on, on one of the podcasts. So I appreciate, appreciate that.
Ben Rue (14:36):
We appreciate you being here and for all the awesome work you’ve done in the short time you’ve been with us, but I, you mentioned health equity quite a few times, so let’s let’s go ahead and talk about some health equity. First of all, what is health equity cause like DEI, it’s kind of like a, you know, it’s, you, you dunno what it’s for sure. So what is health equity defined by you.
Harry Petaway (15:00):
or what I, I appreciate that, you know, because DEI is dangerous, right? Like those kind of things are their words that are familiar to us.
Ben Rue (15:08):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative>.
Harry Petaway (15:08):
so that we can put our own definitions to them. You know, luckily for health equity, there’s, there’s a little bit, there’s a little bit more boundaries around it.
Harry Petaway (15:17):
And some, some organizations say, no, this is what it means, but let me, let me talk about health disparities first to put it in context. So what health disparities are, and this is a little easier to, to understand these are like the, the differences in health outcomes that are closely linked to social economic, you know, environmental disadvantages, those type of things that are historically linked to some type of discrimination. Right? So a lot of times we, when we hear health equity, we always talk about disparities, right? What health equity is. And I, I like to use the world health organization’s definition for it, but they describe health equity. It’s when every person has the opportunity to attain his or her full potential. And no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of a social position or socially determined circumstances. So then you can be your best healthy self.
Harry Petaway (16:20):
And none of it’s influenced about who you are, how you identify yourself, where you grew up, how much money you have those type of things. So that’s, that’s the, that’s the definition that I adopt for health equity.
Ben Rue (16:32):
That’s a really great definition.
Harry Petaway (16:35):
That’s deep. Isn’t it? <Laugh>.
Ben Rue (16:38):
yeah. I mean it is. And it’s it’s, it’s, it’s kind of a broad definition. Yeah. I feel like it could be applied to like a lot of things, like just,
Harry Petaway (16:50):
there’s a, there’s a key there’s so I’m, I’m a fan of all things equity. And so that’s, you know, when we think about the conference the 34th conference solving for X, right. Equity is an outcome of all these different things, right? Health equity is a specific form of equity. And as you, and I think you caught it, because I saw no one could see us.
Harry Petaway (17:17):
Right. But I saw the wheels spinning in your head. Just it’s a broad definition, but it’s tied to so many other things.
Ben Rue (17:23):
Harry Petaway (17:23):
Is health equity closely related to all things equity. Yes. and we’ll get into that a little bit. When we start talking about social determinants of health and kind of what, what goes into making up health equity. But I think the thing that jumps the most jumps out at me the most with that definition is this idea of reaching your full potential. Right. people always struggle with equality equal versus equitable. Right. So equality is like, we all get to go to the doctor, right?
Ben Rue (17:54):
Harry Petaway (17:54):
You know, equity is a, well, the doctor actually treats us and gives, has the resources that we need versus like, well, you know, y’all get the blue pill.
Ben Rue (18:04):
Harry Petaway (18:04):
Well, I need the blue in the yellow pill.
Ben Rue (18:06):
Exactly. I, I feel like health equity is not to belittle it, but it’s like the basic, like it’s like the, you it’s like you it’s the, it’s the foundation of what you need to accomplish everything like you to, to be your, to achieve your highest, you know, goals or be your best self, you need to be healthy. Like that’s a that’s I think that’s for me that that’s yeah.
Harry Petaway (18:35):
It’s just that was it’s the fundamental foundation of everything. I mean, and, and it is that simple. And actually it’s one of the challenges that I, I personally have, especially coming from like a public health perspective because we see it in a different way. It’s pretty simple now how we get there, you know, that might be complex, but you know, I, I do personally struggle sometimes with, you know, like first you have to get people to understand it, believe it, to move on.
Harry Petaway (19:07):
And it’s, it’s, you know, to me, it’s a, it’s a simple concept and it affects every piece of our life with how, how healthy we are.
Ben Rue (19:14):
I think that’s why you saw the wheels turning. Cause I’m like, well, that’s, that’s so simple. It’s so fundamental. Like that’s like that shouldn’t be difficult at all. But unfortunately it is difficult in a lot of places in the world, particularly you know, right here in the good old us of a so why do you think why is health equity a problem in the USA in the United States?
Harry Petaway (19:37):
Number one reason United States, it’s an industrialized country and I don’t know how many, you know, again, this public health stuff is that all industrialized countries have challenges with health equity because they all have challenges with equity. The primary reason is that there’s such a gap between there’s such a, they call it the socioeconomic gap, right.
Harry Petaway (20:00):
So how much money the top makes and I’m not talking about the Amazons of the world or anything like that. Right. Like, let, let’s just call it middle class America and then the poor. Right. And so when you have these gaps, you have gaps in all things, equity, especially health equity. In the United States. And you know, I wouldn’t, you know, I’m gonna a lot of things that I’m gonna say, hopefully they don’t sound too controversial. You know, I would not wanna be in another health system other than a United States health system. I would not wanna fall down sick anywhere other than our great country. I’ve spent a lot of time in health systems and I really believe in them, but we do have our challenges. And one of the fundamental this is ideological a little bit, but health healthcare in the United States, it’s a commodity, right?
Harry Petaway (20:51):
It is something that we, we buy and I’m not today proposing today. I’m not proposing that, you know, it’s universal healthcare for everyone because I don’t want to get into that concept. But there is this idea that if you don’t have enough money, there’s certain things that you can’t get. And it’s not just that I can’t pay for healthcare, but you might not be able to drive to healthcare. Or the providers might not be incentivized because they’re not gonna make as much money being in your community. So with it being a commodity and you know, like how we pay for everything you know, there’s, there’s a, there’s a challenge when it comes to that. And what’s interesting about the us though, is that we spend more money than any industrialized country in the world. I think in 2021, it was 4.3 trillion with a tea, right.
Harry Petaway (21:44):
That we spent on healthcare and you would expect our health outcomes to be better than every other country. And they’re not <laugh>. And that’s what when you, when you actually start looking at the data and I, I, I looked, I just looked at a study by the Commonwealth. They compare the U.S. With, with 10 other countries. So like Germany, Australia, New Zealand, you know, like, I’m like, oh, okay. You know, they, they, they do okay. We were worse. And a lot of things, there’s certain categories like infant mortality rates and certain groups that we do worse than some third world countries. So in the us, it’s a combination of things it’s primarily, it’s primarily to your point equity things just aren’t equitable in general. We also have an interesting how we approach things with our election cycles and, and, and things like that.
Harry Petaway (22:43):
So typically what you’ll see, if, so for example if the Democrats come in, they may feel that there needs to be more for healthcare, but with that comes the significant administrative burden that health systems just can’t can’t deal with. Sorry. I know I bounced all over the place on that one.
Ben Rue (23:01):
That’s great. totally makes sense. I was gonna say, so what you’re saying is capitalism <laugh>.
Harry Petaway (23:05):
I, you don’t know, but capitalism in other countries works. It’s just some of the things that, that challenge us. And, and even now like in, in our country where there is such a divide, I think that, you know, I can foresee that these health equity issues will persist because it’s difficult for people to see another person, like another whole person.
Ben Rue (23:33):
mm-hmm <affirmative>.
Harry Petaway (23:34):
and come together on what’s important.
Harry Petaway (23:38):
Because it’s, you know, who’s winning on social media at, at the time. So, so I think you know, the way the things have been going in the last, you know, a few election cycles are gonna make it difficult for, for certain things with, with, as it relates to health equity. If, if we don’t all come together to, to work on it together. Yeah.
Ben Rue (23:58):
Well, and speak of social media, social media has a lot of influence. What do you think influences health equity?
Harry Petaway (24:05):
You know, so this one’s actually, it’s, it’s easy. We call it social determinants of health, right. And so some people call it political determinants of health. I don’t, I don’t like that term because I don’t like throwing the politics in there because politics are part of social determinants of health, but the, I, you just did. <Laugh> the diction.
Harry Petaway (24:25):
I know, right. <Laugh> the, but, but like the, the clinical definition of social determinants of health, it’s the conditions where we live work, learn, play worship, age that include complex systemic and social structures that influence these conditions. So things like policy and economic climate, but it’s really, it’s how we interact with the environment. What school we went to, what zip code we live in how well our parents were able to teach us certain things, you know, like all of, all of those various things that make us uniquely us, those are the things that influence health equity. So for example there’s this idea called health literacy, right. And what health literacy means. And, and a lot of, you know, this is where terms get funny, right? So health literacy, oh, I can understand words. And the doctor wrote me a note and I can read it.
Harry Petaway (25:26):
Right. That doesn’t mean that you can one comprehend. What the doctor wrote. Right. Even if you can comprehend what the doctor wrote, and this is where some people stumble with health literacy, you still have to be able to navigate that structure. So let’s say that I live in a community. I was able to see the doctor, but I had to wait three months longer than somebody in another community, because I don’t have that kind of specialist.
Ben Rue (25:51):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative>
Harry Petaway (25:53):
Like, like access is, is a, is an issue. And then once I see that physician sessions, like, you know what, here, you need to change your diet. You need to eat these things, but you know what? I live in a food desert now, or I can’t afford organic foods and, and things like that. So it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s not just that I understand what the doctor told me to do.
Harry Petaway (26:16):
It’s really my ability to navigate through those things. Now it’s not just, you know, because you’re disadvantaged, it could be your age. Right.
Ben Rue (26:24):
Mm-hmm <affirmative>,
Harry Petaway (26:25):
it could be, there’s just certain things because of your ethnicity or race that you are more prone to. There’s just, it’s just really everything that how we interact with our environment the things that make us human that’s what social determinants are we do hear, or, sorry, not that we hear, but there’s a lot of policy that, that influences us, right. So, or influences our, our outcome. So like, if I let’s say that I’m a senior or I’m 65, over 65 years old, anything that has to do with Medicare, any kinda legislation or anything like that will affect me. The other things that will affect me, if I’m a senior, I’m in a healthcare system and the policies change not to help me, but to help someone else, great example is like pronouns.
Harry Petaway (27:19):
And I know that this is like, you know, this might be interesting, but as legislation goes through healthcare systems, they make these sweeping changes. And so they will ask everyone, what is your preferred? Like, how do you identify, right. So somebody that’s like 70, 80 ish, they don’t understand that. They hear it. They get upset. The doctor doesn’t like me. They don’t care about me. It’s just all, all those things can, can kind go, go into it. I, I see the people, people can’t see it, but I see the puzzle look on your face.
Ben Rue (27:54):
Oh, no. I was just thinking, no, I was just thinking, that’s funny that you mentioned pronouns with seniors. That just reminded me of an event that I used to do with this organization called reclaim, which is a organization that provides mental health counseling and for queer youth, a lot of trans, a lot of them trans, and one of their big events is this brunch that they hold as a fundraiser.
Ben Rue (28:21):
And one of the major donors always has an older base and they’ll, and at this event, or at this fundraiser, we always ask people to wear a pin with their preferred pronouns. And a lot of you know, a lot of the older guests will not understand the point of it. And there was got to the point where there was a, it was an elderly gentleman that was helping check in. And I asked which pronoun, his preferred pronoun. And he got all upset about it. And so I gave him a, she/her pin and he got mad at me and was just like, well, he initially said, there’s no point of, you know, pronouns, blah, blah, blah. So I gave him a, she/her pin. He’s like, why’d you give me this? I’m a man. And I was like, so yes, you do care about pronouns.
Ben Rue (29:04):
And you would prefer that he him pin, there you go. So it was one of those things, like, that’s just like a way to literally be like, or, or show them why it matters or yeah. In that, in that particular instance, because it’s like, well, you just got mad because I misgendered you. When, so like you, the same person who was just saying how none of this matters got upset when I misgendered you. So that’s why we ask you your pronouns. But but I can see how back in the, in, back in the day that wasn’t a thing that was ever brought up because people were just kind of assumed based on how they, their outward appearance of their pronouns. Yeah.
Harry Petaway (29:45):
A, a lot of the the legislation for seniors would have to do with like copays, how, you know, how many what’s the protocol before they can get certain tests, those type of things.
Harry Petaway (29:58):
But let me, let me touch on a social determinant or, or let me, let me talk about like your, or not your orientation, but like in the LGBTQ community for cancer screening, they lag behind other groups of people. And when you look at the research, one of the primary reasons for this is that a lot of people in the community, not a lot, but I, I don’t wanna make a broad cast it a lot, but for several people in the community, it’s difficult to find a primary care physician. And because they don’t have a trusting relationship with a primary care physician where they can be themselves, be their authentic selves. And this is where DEI comes into it. Right. Like I cannot be my authentic self, not even with my doctor because they don’t have a primary care physician. They’re not getting the recommended screenings for cancer.
Harry Petaway (30:48):
Like they’re not even having those conversations. And so once their cancer is found, it’s like it’s at a higher stage. You know what I mean? Like, so it’s those type of things, you know, about who we are, how we identify with ourselves. Yeah. You know, the relationship with our doctor, what they think about pronouns and, and, and things like that, that, that all impacts our care. And those are social determinants of health. It really, it literally is everything. Some people will have you believe that it’s needle sharing behavior. Sure. <laugh> right. Yeah. Because you wanna sell your solution, you know, like, especially in the commercial, I wanna sell your solution because it’s, you know, I’m selling needles and it’s social determinants of health and you smoked. Yeah. That’s fine. But it actually has to do with everything that makes us who we are.
Ben Rue (31:32):
Exactly. That intersectionality. But speaking of who we are, who do you think is responsible for health equity then, then is it the patient is a doctor who is it?
Harry Petaway (31:43):
So a lot of people put health equity on the medical community, health equity is all of our responsibility. And it goes back to what you keep seeing. It’s the intersectionality of what influence our, our health. So we can’t put health equity on the healthcare community. Traditionally the healthcare community has some limits, right? So like before they weren’t really looking at what’s going on at the community level that, you know, like I’m sick,
Ben Rue (32:12):
mm-hmm, <affirmative>.
Harry Petaway (32:13):
old school providers were incentivized to treat that sickness. Right. That’s it exactly not keep you healthy or anything like that. Even when those models change to what they call value-based models, meaning like now I’m incentivized to make sure you have your test, make sure that you are healthier, that you’re not being readmitted.
Harry Petaway (32:32):
There’s still the community piece. And some you know, when I say progressive again, I don’t mean in a political way, but some providers that really got into it they realized things like, man, you know, I got a lot of seniors coming in here with heatstroke. They just came back with heatstroke. If I bought them a hundred dollars air conditioner that would actually save us money <laugh> and that’s how they looked at it. It would save us money, but because it keeps the person healthier and they’re not tapping into some of the resources that the providers are being incentivized for. Yeah. So they started doing things like that, learn about things like rides and, and stuff like that. But it’s all of our responsibility because we all need to one understand that health equity is important. We need to believe that everybody deserves health equity.
Harry Petaway (33:25):
And with that, we need to understand that health disparities are real and that we can all do something about it, especially when we get into corporate spaces, how we make money, the types of choices that we have, how we vote you know, that, you know, are you gonna vote on that walkability issue? You know, for the parks that’s coming up, might not think it’s very important, but communities that where you can walk safely tend to be healthier, you know, those type of things.
Ben Rue (33:55):
Yeah. Looking at these community initiatives that, and you’ll see a lot more providers are actually looking or starting to emphasize that like, you know, or investing in like healthy in healthier communities to like, you know for health equity. But how do corporate and community DEI initiatives influence health equity?
Harry Petaway (34:22):
See, so for me, this is where it gets tricky for me because, you know, I’m a public health guy in a DEI space, right? Yeah. So I look at everything through the public health lens. A lot of times you you’ll, you might hear me get a little cynical <laugh> depending on if you, if you’re listening to me on LinkedIn or something, but you know, a lot of times there’s this idea for DEI initiatives, you know, I say brown faces and spaces, right? So like what, what communities do is that they try to be performative or show that not communities, but what, corporations, corporations do, they try to show that they’re doing something with DEI and the best way to do that is to change their marketing page and to hire someone that looks a little different or sounds a little different.
Harry Petaway (35:08):
You know, so that we can say we hired that person. Right. would I say that to improve health equity, what corporations and DEA initiatives can do is that they can go beyond performative, right. Or, you know, the new term woke washing, meaning like, you know, go beyond what’s on your webpage.
Ben Rue (35:26):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative>.
Harry Petaway (35:27):
Go beyond with like, you know, we hired four brown people and we don’t just have some of them four categories. Right? Yeah, exactly. And I’m glad that we can, I’m glad that I’m able to laugh about that, but I, but I’m, I’m wholeheartedly serious, like things that corporations can do is that they can, and they can take a look at their social responsibility programs. Right. And align that with their DEI initiatives in my mind, there’s really no reason that those should be separate, separate, even though they are all the time.
Ben Rue (36:04):
Well, that was the one good thing about after, well, there are many good things that came after George Floyd’s murder, but that was one of some where it’s just like, it was corporations started realizing like that DEI and social responsibilities shouldn’t be different like that they are, or, at least they, or at least they claim they or at least they started yeah. Putting that talking the talk or I would probably putting money towards it more.
Harry Petaway (36:34):
I’m gonna challenge you on that a little bit too. And it’s not because it’s not what you, what you said is, right. So remember I live in Michigan for you live in Minneapolis.
Harry Petaway (36:46):
And so what I found, and again, this is like kind of cool, like doctor, guy coming in to seeing like, you know, what’s, what’s behind the Forum and how, and how does it work? It’s really interesting to see how the community in Minneapolis is different and, or similar to some of the other communities out there.
Ben Rue (37:01):
Mm-Hmm, <affirmative>.
Harry Petaway (37:02):
What I found in Minneapolis is even though there’s still a lot of challenges opportunities, there’s another, you know, shooting this, you know, this, this year that that was traumatic. There’s so much community work. That’s going on and, you know, back to like, what do I get to do for the Forum by hands down? The funnest thing I get to do with the Forum is I get to talk to people. They, attend the Forum and participate with the Forum and they tell me about the work that they’re doing.
Harry Petaway (37:35):
And they tell me about the work, like within their organization and also the work within the communities. And some of them even say like, well, my side time hustle. Right. You know, like, I’m like, okay, I got a side, I have a side time hustle too. I’m like their side time hustle is ano another volunteer engagement. Yeah. You know, using their professional expertise for, for, for someone else. But to your point, what happened with George Floyd gave an excellent opportunity, especially for social justice, right? Like how you how you can engage. The, the other thing that corporations can do is that when going back to let’s be more, let’s be real. Let’s not be performative is to take a look at the citizens within their community. And hopefully they have an employee base that’s reflective of that community and what their needs are, especially their healthcare needs.
Harry Petaway (38:31):
There’s a, there’s a great person that I follow on LinkedIn and had the opportunity to interview her once her name is Cassandra rose and she is a health she’s a benefits equity expert. Right. And so benefits, equity is an interesting idea. Right. And it goes back to like, okay, well, equity is simple. Equity doesn’t mean equal. So we all get the same stuff. What does benefits equity mean? And so the idea with that is that the benefits packages are designed for your employees true needs, right? Yeah. I I’ve talked to organizations that have been at organizations where they had, we have a 401k match maybe depending on how the organization does, if you give 10% and why that’s an interesting challenge is that for the majority of the employees, they can’t afford 10%, 10%, right? Like, I mean, like you still have to buy food, you still have to pay for, you know, college or whatever, whatever, especially if you’re trying to do something on your own.
Harry Petaway (39:37):
There’s only a select group of people. Again, this is where it becomes socioeconomic disparities. Right. The higher level income owners can afford to take that 10% hit and gamble on whether or not you’re gonna get the match. So You know, we talked about understanding what’s going on in your community. Every community has a community health assessment. It’s typically tied to their health system. Corporations can tie into that. A lot of times what they’re talking about is related to DEI, marginalized populations, those type of things. So going back to, what can we do from a social responsibility standpoint, you know, align with that, align your benefits with what your community needs, what your employees needs and align your social responsibility programs around you know, diversity, equity, inclusion initiatives that influence health equity. And the other thing is partnerships.
Harry Petaway (40:38):
That was a thing that, again, that was fun about with the Forum, you know, watching somebody like, you know, blue cross blue shield partner with an organization, like turn signal. Right. And I don’t, I don’t know if you know who, you know, blue cross blue shield, everybody knows that has to do with insurance. Turn Signal’s an organization where it’s like, if you get pulled over by a police officer, it’s an, it’s an app where you can have a lawyer with you <laugh> within, I don’t know. I think it’s like 20 seconds <laugh> or something like that. It’s only available in certain areas, but it’s, it’s a way to protect your employees For, for things.
Ben Rue (41:14):
So that’s really cool.
Harry Petaway (41:16):
I told you I’m all over the place with, it’s digitally and it’s only available in certain it’s only available in certain communities.
Ben Rue (41:29):
That makes more sense. But thinking of partnerships and you kind of alluded to my next question, how can organizations like the Forum help achieve health equity? There’s a lot of partnerships and a lot of great a lot of great community. And like you mentioned, that’s one of the one which you just mentioned about being one of your favorite parts about engagement with the Forum and our partners.
Harry Petaway (41:49):
You know, and, and the Forums partners, and it’s, it’s again, like how do we look at partners and how are we defining partners? And, and part of what I’ve seen with the Forum is that, you know, this partnerships has to do with how can we put on and collaborate in this event and have a discussion hands down the, the most like, so when I say, when I say to people, like, what did you get out of the Forum?
Harry Petaway (42:15):
Like, why did you come? It has to do with the community. And it has to do with the opportunity to interact with, with other people. And, you know, I talked about, I spent a lot of time in healthcare. Anybody in healthcare will tell you that a lot of the work in healthcare is done in silos, right? So like their DEI initiative might not be tied to their population. Health initiative might not be tied to their health equity initiative.
Ben Rue (42:35):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative>,
Harry Petaway (42:36):
it drives me crazy. But for some reason, for many of them it works. The Forum gives an opportunity to bring experts together. Whether by saying, Hey, we’re having an event. <Laugh>, you know, yeah. We want you to come. And then, you know, and the Forum is great because it’s got a great reputation. We’re having an event.
Harry Petaway (43:02):
We want you to come. And here’s what the focus is gonna be. The Forum has an opportunity to put structure around conversations connect people, because even within this great, you know, DEI community, there’s still people working in silos. You know, like I’m still working at X, Y, Z bank, and I’m focused on what our initiatives here. I’m still doing this for whatever community government this is. And I focused on that there, the Forum is an opportunity to bring all those people together and push the initiative. And as organizations like the Forum pay more and more attention towards healthcare and health equity, because again, a lot of the DEI space is brown faces and spaces, right. <Laugh> like, What can we do to improve our numbers? You know, what can we do to make sure that everybody is included?
Harry Petaway (44:00):
What does that look like? Right. So just from the simplicity of inclusion trying to find the missing voice, who’s not being represented, you know, things that the Forum stand for giving an opportunity in a focus on health EC. I would love to see an event by the way, a health equity event, hint, hint, <laugh> from the Forum. But just to keep it front of mind. And it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, but one of the, one of the challenges that I, I like to throw out there to people like, if you do something, how does this, you know, ask yourself, how does this relate to health equity? And I’m, I’m convinced more than not. You’d be like, oh, you know what? This session in theory could relate to health equity, you know, what this idea or concept could relate to health equity.
Harry Petaway (44:57):
And it’ll just become more and more natural.
Ben Rue (44:59):
I will say that we just did a, actually did a webinar about health equity back in, I believe January, or February. So that, so the, the con, so we are doing content on it, but yes, to your point, we could be doing more. And also to your point, health equity is pretty fundamental. So I feel like it all ties to it.
Harry Petaway (45:22):
that, that, that health equity webinar is a great example. And if, and I’m, hopefully I’m recalling this correctly, it had to do with sponsoring women. Within an organization to improve health equity. And when we, and it’s, and the reason why I love that you brought that up is this goes back to like what DEI initiatives, right. <Laugh> can we do that? Influence health equity. Sponsorship in general should be, you know, leadership, we’re gonna call it two oh one, right.
Harry Petaway (45:53):
1 0 1 is showing up 2 0 1 is like, okay, what can we do to, to be better leaders? How do we sponsor you know, underrepresented people, but you, you should have a program like that in place anyway. Like it should have a mentorship program sponsorship program anyway. And those type of things influence health equity, because it changes one who’s at the table, especially in healthcare, because that one had to do with healthcare executives.
Ben Rue (46:19):
Mm-Hmm, <affirmative>.
Harry Petaway (46:19):
Who’s at the table, who’s helping to make decisions, improving income of women and other marginalized communities, you know, again, all of those things did influence your health. So, yeah.
Ben Rue (46:35):
Yeah, exactly. It’s all. It’s like I said, all very fundamental, all, all comes back down, all affects your health and it all comes back to your health. Well, this has been such a great conversation and I really hate that the have to say this, but it is our last, last question of this conversation before I ask that, I just wanna say, thank you again, Harry, for being here and having this awesome conversation with me really learned a lot and really dig, got to dig into health equity.
Harry Petaway (47:04):
No, I, I appreciate it. It’s you know, Isit by in, in silence and like, oh, wow, that’s awesome. That’s an awesome session that Ben’s doing. So it’s, it’s really nice to it has been a pleasure to, to be behind the scenes at the Forum and see how hard that all the work that goes into providing such great content and giving people a voice to, to share their ideas and strategies and, you know, who knows one person might influence somebody else. So it’s, it’s, it’s nice to be a part of that. So I, I appreciate it.
Ben Rue (47:34):
Well, thank, yeah, we appreciate your plug for the Forum there. <Laugh> so last question. What can we do as individuals to help health equity? We’ve talked about corporations, organization, nonprofit organizations, you know, the government, like what can we do as individuals?
Harry Petaway (47:52):
You know, it’s, it’s like all things. The number one thing is to be aware and acknowledge that it exists in public health, we rely heavily on this idea that this, this foundational model called the health belief model, right. And in the health belief model, I, as an individual have to agree that there is a problem, right? That, so for example, I could get the flu. I don’t, you know, but the flu is a problem. It’s worth me being worried about it. And there’s something I can do about it. But the very beginning of that health belief model is that you have to believe and agree that there’s a problem, right. We, as individuals need to, to realize that health is not equitable for everyone, we also need to take responsibility. This is where I get a little controversial. We need, we need to going back to health literacy.
Harry Petaway (48:58):
We need to learn and explore how to navigate our lives. And some of the things that put us at a disadvantage. So we need to understand a little bit about like, okay, so if we can’t get access to good food, is there a way that we can, right? Like, like what can we do? I don’t wanna make this a sad story, but one of the, one of the sad parts about, you know, the shooting that recently happened, the mass shooting that recently happened in Buffalo is that in that community, that tops grocery store, they fought to get that grocery store in the entire community, not just the black community, everybody, everybody said, we need to eliminate this food desert. And it’s, it’s those type of things. Getting involved, reaching out, helping our older citizens, especially as they navigate alone through the health system, it’s like, we need to take part in this.
Harry Petaway (49:52):
We can’t sit back and say this is a healthcare system’s issue. It’s the doctor’s issue. It’s the policymaker’s issue. Well, the policy makers work for us, you know, we need to pay attention To what’s on the ballot and those type of things. But we need to do the best that we can to learn about our health, know our health status and control the things that we can control rather than always relying on somebody else to fix it for us. That that’s, that’s really what I’m saying. So it’s, it’s, it’s be aware, take some responsibility for yourself. Right. and then try to make things better for everybody else.
Ben Rue (50:32):
Such great advice. Thank you so much, Dr. Harry Petaway.
Harry Petaway (50:38):
Hey, I appreciate it, Ben. Thanks for having me,
Ben Rue (50:42):
Thank you so much, Harry, for this wonderful podcast and overall just great conversation and thank you to our listeners and sponsor Best Buy to learn more. Follow Dr. Petaway on linkedin at www.linkedin.com/in/hpetaway/. New episodes of the forum podcast are available at forumworkplaceinclusion.org/podcast. You can also find the Forum podcast on apple podcast, Spotify, anchor, and Stitcher. Thank you again for listening. Have a great day.
Speaker 1 (51:12):
Thank you again for listening to the Forum and Workplace inclusion podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast to get updates in the latest episodes. Also tell us what you think by reviewing our podcast. We’d love to hear your feedback for more information. Visit us at forumworkplaceinclusion.org, or search workplaceforum on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Thank you very much and have a great day.
Speaker 1 (51:35):
The forum on Workplace inclusion podcast is recorded at Augsburg university in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One of the most diverse private colleges in the Midwest Augsburg university offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and nine graduate degrees to 3000 foreign students of diverse backgrounds at its campus in the vibrant center of the twin cities and nearby Rochester, Minnesota location. Augsburg educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders in Augsburg. Education is defined by excellence in the local arts and professional studies guided by the faith and values of the Lutheran church and shaped by its urban and global settings. Learn more@augsburg.edu.


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