Celebrating a Champion of Health Equity: The Penn Medicine Community Health Fair Team

By Kya Hertz

In recognition of Black History Month, it is imperative to spotlight transformative initiatives that profoundly impact the communities we serve. The Penn Medicine Health Education and Screening Community Health Fair, a trailblazing initiative, a product of the Health Equity Project of the Department of Radiology (DOR) and its Radiology Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Committee (RIDE), stands as a testament to unwavering commitment and profound impact.

A Model of Excellence: Data-Driven Development and Collaborative Leadership

Despite advancements in cancer treatment, significant disparities continue to plague our healthcare system, with Black Americans facing alarming inequities in cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment. These disparities are often rooted in social determinants of health. The Community Health Fair Team, a robust collaboration of over 100 Penn Medicine faculty, trainees, students, and workforce volunteers, stands at the forefront of this battle. United by the Penn Radiology Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Committee, the team is driven by a shared vision: to eliminate health disparities in the underserved West Philadelphia communities.

The inception and successful execution of the Health Fair Program exemplify the power of collaboration and shared leadership. In partnership with the Church of Christian Compassion, Siemens Healthineers, and multiple Penn Medicine Departments, the team has meticulously designed and executed community health fairs, coupled with Mobile Mammography Screening Events, to provide comprehensive health services directly to the community.

Impactful Outreach: Touching Lives and Transforming Health

The Community Health Fair Team's efforts have touched lives and continue to transform community health. The first Fair in June 2022 emphasized cancer education and screening, addressing the most prevalent cancers with disproportionate mortality rates. The subsequent Fair in June 2023 expanded its scope, offering education and screening for chronic diseases and additional cancers. The fairs have not only offered in-person education but also extended their reach through live-streamed church services and significant media coverage, ensuring that the message of health and equity resonates far and wide.

Continuous Improvement: Evaluating and Enhancing Impact

The commitment to excellence is evident in the team's rigorous program evaluation and workforce incentivization. By critically assessing each fair's impact and instituting strategic changes, the team has consistently enhanced its reach and effectiveness. This iterative process of evaluation and improvement reflects the team's dedication to making a tangible difference in community health.

A Beacon of Hope and Health

In celebration of Black History Month, we applaud the efforts of the Penn Medicine Health Education and Screening Community Health Fair Team for their role in promoting hope and furthering health equity. The team, under the leadership of Linda Nunes, MD, MPH, Vice Chair of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in Radiology; Carmen Guerra, MD, MSCE, Vice Chair of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in the Department of Medicine; Brian Englander, MD, Chair of the Department of Radiology at Pennsylvania Hospital; and the dedicated efforts of many others, embodies the values that define the Champion in Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Award. Their significant outreach, commitment to continuous improvement, and adherence to these guiding principles not only tackle present healthcare needs but also pave the way for a future where the communities they support can enjoy greater equity and health.

Let’s take a moment to honor and recognize the remarkable contributions of the Community Health Fair Team—a team that not only models’ excellence but also inspires change, embodying the very essence of Black History Month.