Some of the most renowned healthcare institutions in the U.S. call Cleveland home, yet still, communities of color within the city suffer from inequitable health outcomes. Chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure are concentrated in the city’s mostly Black neighborhoods on the east side. Black Clevelanders live six years less than white Clevelanders, on average.
There are lots of reasons for that. Chronic disinvestment in those east side neighborhoods and systemic racism both play a part in lack of access to healthy food, employment opportunities and housing that negatively impact health outcomes for people in Cleveland. Some of the city’s healthcare institutions have been accused of not doing enough to address those factors.
As part of The Land’s reporting initiative covering these health disparities, we asked our readers what they think. These survey responses will help shape our coverage going forward. Here’s some of the responses we got:
If you feel like your local health care services aren’t up to your standards, what’s missing from them? What do you expect out of your health care providers?
“I travel to Berea for primary care and/or UH services outside my neighborhood. I’m confident in hospital services if needed, but have not found primary care or specialists that are empathetic or unbiased to treating patients in larger bodies. I expect the same treatment from health care providers that someone with a lower BMI would get. The same evaluation and treatment.” – Resident, Kamm’s Corner
“A community health clinic for those without insurance or who cannot afford their insurance. More community outreach, proactive campaigns to combat public health crises, (obviously resources are presently taxed) and the infrastructure necessary to make this possible.” – Connor, Bellaire-Puritas
“A reliable pharmacy. The CVS at Shaker Square is deplorable. I have written to the CEO and regional VP (twice), but received no response.” – Jewel, Shaker Square
“Missing would be a 24/7 urgent care. Improvement with an urgent care, but something with more extended weekend and evening hours that is not an ER would be extremely valuable. As for expectations from providers — they are trauma informed, equity based and have ample awareness and care for those they are serving.” – B, Near westside
“Services seem to be good, but before I was eligible for Medicare I could not access. Too much income for Medicaid, too little income to afford testing and care. Until this year I only had VA healthcare which was totally inadequate/useless.” -Resident, Old Brooklyn
“More Covid services, testing, vaccine sites, PPE in the neighborhood. I would like to see more community based health on the block in the neighborhood.” – Roger, Cudell
What health issues are most important to you?
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What would you like to see out of The Land’s coverage of health equity?
“Health is such a broad topic and anything can basically relate to health. I would like to see coverage that incorporates a perspective of health-in-all-policies or relates to the social determinants of health.” – Melinda, Westown
“Honesty and accountability from leadership and administration. Since the start of Covid I have reached out to city, state and federal officials regarding testing info and availability with no response from anyone.” – Halley, Cudell
“This survey has itself presented important issues, such as healthy and affordable food access, lead poisoning, and mental health. However, one major issue of importance which there has been no trace of in this survey so far is the role that these major hospitals play in the local real estate market, as well as their tax exempt statuses. Praise is heaped on the Cleveland Clinic for donating $50 million to the Lead Safety Network, yet the Clinic pays no taxes, which should have been going toward the problem (and others such as public schools) to the tune of millions for years. This is just one example of a deep and pervasive problem in this city. Just talk to the folks who have been displaced and disenfranchised by these behemoth institutions that claim to be so beneficent.” – Connor, Bellaire-Puritas
“Calling the question on political leaders: Cleveland City Council, mayor, Cuyahoga County Council, county executive, school boards, other elected leaders throughout region. What are their policy solutions to the crisis like health inequities in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County? It seems like there is a general tolerance of the extreme poverty and disinvestment in certain neighborhoods. And political leadership doesn’t have a cohesive plan or strategy to improve these conditions – nor do they seem to consider that part of their purview. More media coverage of these health inequities – and making direct connections to the policy makers in our region (and state) who have the power to make pro-active policy changes to address health inequities would be great.” – Roger, Cudell
“I would like to see an in-depth review of hospital community benefit programs. While the numbers reported are very high, most is technically tied to price signals between Medicaid and private insurance (i.e. an accounting function) and education. There is very little actually invested in community health or programs outside of hospitals. There is also a trend of hospitals, particularly MetroHealth, who have decided to vertically integrate social supports rather than partner, which is less effective and arguably harmful.” – Resident, Ohio City
“People need both hygiene and household cleaners. There’s no way to get them for free, but we already have plenty of food pantries everywhere” – La Queta, Union-Miles
“How violence and the threat of it by simply being a woman in Cleveland is in the back of your mind every single day. Green space and healthy food access covered too.” – Angela, Clifton-Edgewater
This project is part of Connecting the Dots between Race and Health, a project of Ideastream Public Media funded by The Dr. Donald J. Goodman and Ruth Weber Goodman Philanthropic Fund of The Cleveland Foundation.