Mid-South News
7:14 am
Mon June 23, 2008

Closing the Disparity Gap In Memphis Healthcare

Memphis, TN – Most number one rankings are achieved with pride; Memphis, however, lead the nation in 2007 for most obese city. Nicole Erwin reports how a grassroots organization has been chosen to participate in a nationwide effort to reduce obesity and the health issues that correlate.

Frederick Mann, Deputy Director of Communications for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently announced some startling figures involving Memphis and its level of health care.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has overall given Memphis one point six million dollars. The foundation chose 14 cities across the US in their healthcare quality initiative. Memphis was chosen because of its ability to work with and improve the healthcare system on the ground. Chair of Healthy Memphis Common Table Denise Bollheimer says the grant is more than just money for the city.

In the city of Memphis, one quarter live below the poverty line. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the national average is half. In attempt to reach this population, Common Table has teamed up with a local newspaper and provided a column dedicated to getting out health information. The information is written for those with lower literacy. Cynthia Nunnally works with the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department, she also has Diabetes.

Nunnally says her position in public health and a supportive family has made her journey with the disease better than it could have been because information on how to deal with the debilitating lifestyle was more accessible to her, where as others with the same complications have not been as fortunate.

Nunnally says the number of leg amputations among the African American population in Memphis is disturbing compared to the number among other ethnic populations. Those amputations mostly result from individuals not receiving care during the earlier phases of diabetes. She says it is as much of a socioeconomic behavior issue as it is a healthcare issue.

That is the core of this health initiative. Denise Bollheimer says if the community can present information in enough places then perhaps healthy behavior will become a nagging presence, thus leading to healthier decisions and that is the ultimate goal.