Health and wellness are the basis of a successful community, and Buffalo State recently connected with its neighbors to discuss working together to empower West Side residents to successfully access vital health care. The June 19 event, Voices of Community Health, was the most recent West Side Roundtable held at Buffalo State’s Community Academic Center on Grant Street.
The panel included health care professionals representing the Buffalo State Center for Health and Social Research (CHSR), the Community Health Network, Independent Health Foundation, Buffalo Public School 45 (International School), and Univera Health Care. Jonathan Lindner, health educator and research analyst of CHSR and the West Side Youth Development Coalition (WSYDC), served as moderator.
The discussion focused on helping Buffalo State’s neighbors, many of which are immigrants and refugees, to overcome the barriers they face when they seek health care.
Ma Dee, a parent facilitator from BPS 45, discussed some of those barriers. She explained that the immigrant and refugee community has wide-ranging problems including transportation and difficulties faced by English-language learners in following the instructions on their prescriptions.
To address these problems and help local families sooner, discussion moderator Lindner suggested that area schools include these issues when preparing health care students to tackle these problems when they get out in the field.
James Willens, a recent Buffalo State graduate with a degree in health and wellness, discussed his view on how local health care reform should be addressed.
“With the health-care disparities in the community, proper interventions need to be developed,” Willens said. “The population's needs should to be taken into account when planning any intervention program.” He emphasized that a more careful and thoughtful approach to helping local families would be very beneficial.
One of the proposed solutions was presented by Lindner, who discussed the WSYDC’s intent to address the entire community in the Drug Free Communities Support Program Grant. The grant was awarded to the WSYDC to reduce alcohol and drug abuse among West Side youth.
"I think the roundtable was very successful,” said Meg Dee, director of the CAC. “It was able to bring together voices representing the community, Buffalo State, health care providers, schools, the refugee community, and community health network members. The roundtable served to link School 45 with the Independent Health Foundation. I think the resources and strengths which exist currently were identified, and links were made so we can continue to work together to promote the health and wellness of children, youth, and families.”