Our neighborhoods are literally making us sick. Buildings with mold trigger asthma and other respiratory conditions. Geographic lack of access to food and health care increases childhood mortality. Community violence traumatizes residents. Poverty, unemployment, inadequate housing, food insecurity, racial injustice, and oppression cause physical changes in the body, resulting in disease and death. But there is hope. Loving our neighbor includes creating social environments in which people can be healthy. While working in community redevelopment and treating uninsured families, Veronica Squires and Breanna Lathrop discovered that creating healthier neighborhoods requires a commitment to health equity. Jesus’ ministry brought healing through dismantling systems of oppression and overturning social norms that prevented people from living healthy lives. We can do the same in our communities through addressing social determinants that facilitate healing in under-resourced neighborhoods. Everyone deserves the opportunity for good health. The decisions we make and actions we take can promote the health of our neighbors.
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About the Author
Veronica Squires and Breanna Lathrop
Veronica Squires is chief administrative officer for Good Samaritan Health Center in Atlanta. She previously served as director of corporate development for Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta and as the Georgia director of ministry partnerships for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She is a certified CCDA practitioner and serves on the advisory board for the Georgia Charitable Care Network.
Breanna Lathrop is chief operating officer and a family nurse practitioner for Good Samaritan Health Center. She earned her doctor of nursing practice from Georgia Southern University and a master of public health and a master of nursing from Emory University. She is passionate about eliminating health disparities through improving health care access and health outcomes among vulnerable populations, and has previously published on the social determinants of health.