Brighter Days Ahead: Celebrating Public Health

3 min read
Apr 4, 2022 8:35:45 AM

The Vikings were master boat makers — their boats were able to withstand the seas because the wood they chose was flexible. When the winds shifted, and the outlook turned dangerous, the wood of the Viking ships didn’t stay rigid. The wood bent.

Think of the tree in your yard (or in the park, for all you concrete jungle folks) that encounters an obstacle like a fence or a sidewalk (or your neighbor’s property line). When a tree encounters an obstacle, it doesn’t stop growing. It adapts; its roots and branches curl around it, move through it, and look different—but no less beautiful—not despite the challenge, but because of it.

For the last couple of years, our company has stood in awe as our customers in Public Health encountered obstacles that could have killed their growth. Instead, they are emerging completely transformed. They could have taken the opportunity to lay low, or to make themselves smaller. But they’ve come back bolder, shedding light in the darkness with bravery and courage. They’ve taken a sea change and crested with the waves, leveraging disaster to elevate community voices.

Look no further than the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s SA Forward Initiative for proof. Their commitment to dismantling the structural and institutional biases that create health inequities should serve as a blueprint for every health department in this country.

Instead of skirting around root causes, San Antonio tackles them head-on and calls out the truth with a focus on “proactively eliminating discrimination in pay and hiring, instilling anti-racist practices in the healthcare system, and including communities typically marginalized in the decision-making processes that shape our economy, infrastructure, and livelihood.” (See here for more information). They flawlessly combine the power of strong language with the power of simple data storytelling.

With just two easy-to-understand bar charts, the team at San Antonio presents irrefutable evidence of deep-seated barriers. They understand that in order to rally support for bold initiatives, they must start from a place of common understanding. Change happens at the intersection of heart and logic, a place where the field of Public Health operates.

Our long-time partners at Maricopa County Public Health Department continue to amaze us with the trust they’ve built in the community, and the empathy with which they lead. In May, their team will present findings from a powerful project that lifts resident voices and lifts the lived experiences of Maricopa residents during COVID at the Accelerating Health Equity Conference. We’re traveling to Cleveland too, because we can’t miss the opportunity to see how these stories—collected in dozens of interviews and visualized using mySidewalk solutions—captivate the audience. Although the finished project is still under wraps, we can’t stop thinking about this quote from a Maricopa resident reflecting on the pandemic:

Even though we are a data company, we know data alone isn’t enough to change the world. We know that stories matter, and that the people you serve are the ultimate source of truth. 

As we celebrate our Public Health partners during National Public Health Week, we recognize the challenges of the last two years. Our hearts have broken with and for you, as you managed to balance the needs of your community, your staff, and your families with ultimate grace under pressure. We count ourselves fortunate to serve the field, and humbly grateful for the trust our partners place in us every day. 

There are exciting times ahead for mySidewalk’s Public Health work. In 2022, we will see a return to in-person events like NACCHO and APHA, a big unveiling of a revamped Community Health Assessment solution, and a brand-new partnership focusing on better primary data collection. Our promise to Public Health partners is that we will never stop trying to provide more value, better insights, and useful tools to make your lives easier. If you are reading this and you are a current mySidewalk customer, THANK YOU. And if you aren’t a customer, but you’d like to know more about us, don’t hesitate to schedule a virtual coffee with the team, subscribe to our newsletter, listen to our podcast or connect on LinkedIn (or all of the above!). We can’t wait to meet you. 

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