When I first heard of the event titled “Health Justice Town Hall Meeting”, I felt it would be right up my alley. As a HealthCorps Navigator that has recently applied to law school, I figured there would be few better opportunities to combine what I am currently doing with what I am about to do next in life.
Having sat-in on the live screening of the Town Hall in the Community Room in Middletown this past Tuesday, I can confirm that my assumptions were pretty spot-on. The event featured some of the greatest minds in health care from across Connecticut, and it was clear from the opening remarks of U.S. Congressman John B. Larson that those who were in attendance were going to take part in a thorough discussion about how we can solve issues in our state’s public health setup. Congressman Larson – who represents Connecticut’s 1st congressional district – was followed by keynote speaker Rev. Shelley Best, President and CEO of the Conference of Churches, and an emotional performance by award-winning playwright and director Robbie McCauley. Soon after, Senior Vice President of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, Dr. Jenny Carrillo, introduced the panelists and a spirited conversation ensued for the remainder of the two-hour event.
The panelists included Dr. Jewel Mullen, the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health, Ms. Patricia Baker, CEO and President of the Connecticut Health Foundation, Mr. Richard Cho, Director of Innovation for the Corporation for Supportive Housing, Ms. Frances Padilla, President of the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, Inc., and Dr. M. Natalie Achong, MD, President of the Connecticut Society of the National Medical Association. The wisdom and honesty that each of these individuals brought to the discussion on health care was inspiring and their eagerness to answer all questions posed really impressed me. The comments of Jeannette DeJesus – special advisor to the Governor on Health Reform – added to the overall experience, and the general sentiment seemed to be that there is a lot of work to be done in improving health care for the state of Connecticut but that it is indeed feasible.
Seeing so many bright and positive people in one space, all dedicated to bettering the quality and affordability of health for citizens of our state, was moving for me. Though I am not sure where the future will take me personally, I am deeply invested in the short and long-term health care systems in place in Connecticut. My parents call this place home, as do several of our other family members and so many of my friends, and I want to ensure that they live as long and well as possible in the Constitution State. The closer we can move towards universal health care for Connecticut – and possibly even the entire country – the better, and health justice efforts are paramount for that trend to move in the right direction. Making primary care more accessible while improving its quality is daunting, though that sizable task cannot and should not halt our progress. I hope that my future career can make a positive impact on health care from a policy-based and legal level, and that all of my peers and fellow Navigators can have just as significant of an effect from their roles in their respective fields.
The Health Justice Town Hall reassured me that Connecticut is on the right track when it comes to making our state healthier, and we need to continue to develop innovative and revolutionary ways of accomplishing this.
Pat Wildes, HealthCorps Navigator