Removing Barriers to Good Health for All is Focus of Health Equity Summit at UMass Amherst on Nov. 18


DATE:           Friday, Nov. 18

TIME:            9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Media availability 11:30 to noon

WHAT:          Second Western Massachusetts Health Equity Summit

WHERE:       Campus Center Auditorium

The School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst hosts the second Western Massachusetts Health Equity Summit for 300 health professionals, religious leaders, legislators, social service agency representatives, students and volunteers. They will hear about new research findings from a regional needs assessment and discuss issues including social justice in population health.

Speakers will include state Rep. Aaron Vega of Holyoke, who will talk about how he became involved in the region’s public health issues and in leading the Community Health Improvement Plan in Hampden County. Other speakers include SPHHS Dean Marjorie Aelion, UMass Amherst Provost Katherine Newman and summit emcee Shannon Rudder, executive director of MotherWoman, a Hadley-based nonprofit organization that creates community safety nets for mothers at risk for, or experiencing perinatal emotional complications like depression and anxiety.

Vega and summit organizer Risa Silverman, coordinator for the SPHHS office of public health practice and outreach, say the need for a health equity summit is great, particularly in Hampden County, because it is ranked last in the state on 14 health indicators such as infant mortality, access to healthy food, smoking rates and physical inactivity. 

Since the first summit in 2014, all 10 hospitals in the region and one major insurer have completed a community health assessment and identified some evidence-based best practices that might be adopted to address needs in the four western Massachusetts counties.

Summit sponsors include Baystate Health, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Health New England, Mercy Medical Center, Holyoke, and Shriners Hospitals for Children, Springfield.