In August 2019, leaders from the Salt Lake County Health Department began partnering with UNP to discuss specific issues regarding public health disparities within west side communities. Having identified community health issues that impacted our neighbors, including decreased life expectancy in comparison to east side communities, they requested input and guidance on how to best approach and support west side communities, focused on strengths, pride, and community knowledge. By September 2019, the Health Department committed to a “systems mapping project,” a 3-day consulting exercise at the Glendale Library that included more than 80 community members, community council leaders, and education and health system leaders. The sessions provided financial compensation for engagement, as well as language interpretation and childcare.
The systems mapping process identified authentic health disparities, community pride, and institutional investment as focuses for the community. (Click HERE to view the resulting systems map). UNP has begun the “socialization” of the information to larger systems to inform future impact. Dorothy Adams, Deputy Director of Salt Lake County’s Health Department, reported that, “As an organization we have learned that to impact the health outcomes of the communities we provide services to, we need to connect and build upon the trusted voices that already exist in these communities. By doing that, we recognize that our role is to have a seat at the table, listen and learn, and with that knowledge, adapt our programs to meet identified needs. It is our hope that by approaching our work with a systems knowledge, we will begin to make meaningful changes in health outcomes. The broad-based programmatic delivery that has historically been the model used for the provision of services, while viewed as equitable, in actuality is not. Determining how the trajectory of health outcomes in a community can be changed is not easy and is connected to other factors that traditionally were viewed as being outside the purview of public health. We know that the social determinants of health are connected to a community’s health outcomes, and therefore as a service provider, it is critical that we understand how these communities can and will connect to our services.”
Along the way, UNP realized one of the Health Department colleagues, Michell McGaughey, grew up in Glendale. We are so grateful for her origin story and her willingness to share it here!
“The opportunity to participate in the Glendale Community Mapping process has been the highlight of my career with the Health Department. I grew up in Glendale on Stewart Street and went to Mountain View Elementary and Glendale Jr. High. This mapping exercise felt like coming home. Hearing the stories of how close the community remains and the pride the residents (including some of my own family and friends who have remained in the area) have in the community, brought me to tears more than once in the days I spent at the Glendale Library during this event. When I was growing up in Glendale in the 1970s and 1980s, it was one of the most diverse communities in the city and that shaped the person I grew in to. The diversity represented in Glendale today is much greater than it was back then, and it makes me so proud that it has been fostered in my home community. What makes me more proud is the stories I heard of success, resiliency, and the will to keep fighting when things are hard.
“The connections we made during the planning and execution of the mapping exercise have helped us reach residents during the COVID pandemic and have expanded Salt Lake County Public Health’s ability to serve the community. The personal connections we as Health Department staff made during the event with Glendale residents made the successes and struggles real and personal, and we felt your joy and pain. I’m so proud to say I’m from Glendale and I’m looking forward to continuing the work we started.”
Content provided by Julianne Rabb, Clinical Director for the UNP Hartland Partnership Center