Occasionally someone will ask me, do you live in the city or the county? I now answer I live in both, the city during the day, outside the city nights and weekends.
That answer suggests I have a responsibility to be concerned about the communities where I live, both communities. It is all connected; we are all connected.
Over the last two weeks we have seen several incidences of incredible violence in our community. But, it happens every day. Are we becoming numb to what it suggests? Something is very wrong. Many of our young people in the inner city have lost hope. They leave school, have no hope for success and the relationships on the streets become their key focus. Those relationships end up in this violence.
As we worry in health care about chronic illness and how can we do a better job caring for our residents in the community through promoting health and wellness, we cannot ignore this violence. It is no different than any other chronic illness, but perhaps more deadly. Its root causes and solutions, hope or a lack of hope.
We do know there are community-based groups and organizations that do know about solutions. These are partners who together with our talents in health care, can help us create hope in our communities. We have educational programs, jobs and offer access to health care. How we link to create a new approach is what we are trying to do with the Northside Urban Partnership, and are now trying to do with the Near Westside Initiative, Syracuse University's Lerner Center, and Nojaim's on the West side.
It's not easy. We speak different languages, and have different cultures and approaches, but we share a deep desire to improve our communities.
My hope rests in the belief we can make a difference in the lives of our young people, and create the sense of hope that will tackle this chronic condition called violence. What else can we do as an organization? What other bridges and program investments do we need to make?
Our primary care clinics and pediatricians actively discuss and participate in literacy initiatives. Have we drawn the connections we need to for our patients using social, as well as medical prescriptions in all our services?
This is a dialogue we need to continue across our organization in the months ahead as we move towards improving community health.