Going beyond the doctor’s office to address community health needs / Public News Service

The new head of the Episcopal Health Foundation of Houston says the COVID pandemic, and now monkeypox, shines a spotlight on populations in Texas who are vulnerable.

Dr. Ann Barnes has spent much of her career as a frontline physician serving overstretched and underresourced communities. She said more needed to be done to improve health outside of traditional health care settings.

“It’s really about how you support creation and environments that promote health,” she said, “so that people can live to their full potential and aren’t at increased risk when these seizures occur?

Since last week, Texas has reported more than 300 cases of monkeypox, and health officials expect to expand vaccine availability. Barnes, currently chief health officer and senior vice president at Harris Health System of Houston, will officially assume her role as president and CEO of EHF on October 3, replacing founding CEO Elena Marks.

Barnes said the Foundation’s mission to improve health, not just health care, gets to the root of what causes poor quality health — especially in low-income populations and communities of color. She noted that improving equity in health and underlying non-medical factors begins with addressing poverty, housing, food security, social connections, employment and health. education of a person.

“All of this impacts a person’s life in such a way that it affects the decisions they are able to make,” she said, “which in turn ultimately affects , the results of his health”.

Barnes, a native of Houston’s Fifth Ward, has worked with the city’s at-risk communities. She was also a principal investigator for a National Institute of Health project that established a first-of-its-kind registry to understand the factors that lead to successful weight loss maintenance among African Americans.

Disclosure: The Episcopal Health Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on health issues, mental health, philanthropy, and poverty issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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