Our Journey towards Health Equity
By Christina Kamkosi, EHF Program Coordinator
Sep 12, 2018
It has been 10 years since Empire Health Foundation (EHF) was created from the sale of Deaconess and Valley Hospitals in Spokane. Amidst all of the milestones we’ve achieved, there has also been growth opportunities and great lessons learned on how we can better live out our values as a foundation. At EHF, we practice an adaptive, results-based style of philanthropy we call Philanthropy 3.0, which fuses innovation, collaboration and a drive for the advancement of health equity to do whatever it takes to make a measurable impact.
“Equity means different things to different people and everything to ‘different’ people. Empire Health Foundation is committed to improving health in our region for all of the communities we represent.”
-Gary Stokes, EHF Board President
Our health equity statement narrates our commitment to help everyone reach their full health potential and it serves as the definition of what we think needs to happen to carry out our mission. We also recognize that this statement has the potential to change over time as we adapt to the needs of our region.
Achieving health equity is a bold goal which recognizes that solving today’s toughest issues is about much more than just writing a check or funding a one-size-fits-all type of strategy. Achieving heath equity takes thoughtful leadership and the consideration of the impact of history and policies that affect our systems. The premise around equity is that not every person or every community starts from the same place. Under-resourced and under-represented communities have far more disparities due to deep-rooted barriers, which are a result of unfair and unjust policies and practices at every systematic level.
At EHF, we define health by much more than medicine, disease or one’s physical condition. Research has shown that we are the product of our environment as well as the conditions or factors we encounter as we live, learn, work and play. These defining elements are called social determinants of health and are the reasons why we are investing in initiatives that not only address physical and behavioral health, but also the social, economic and environmental needs of individuals (education, mitigating adverse childhood experiences, workforce development, etc.). We believe these kinds of investments in health are key to reducing and ultimately eliminating existing disparities. We are in pursuit of health equity for all.