Welcome to Around the Table, a regular series where we talk to people in our network and share the incredible work they are doing in their industry. Pull up a chair and join us for conversation and connection.
Name: Georgina Dukes-Harris
Company: Unite Us
What first sparked your interest in the intersection of social justice, technology, and healthcare?
My lived experience growing up with a single mom in a low-income rural community where she worked as a nursing assistant. I saw the power of healthcare to help people heal and wanted to pursue a career in healthcare. However, after working in hospitals and clinics for 10 years, I realized that patients were not getting healed fully and that the incorporation of social justice and technology was needed beyond the four walls of a clinical setting – which led me to join Unite Us.
Are there any upcoming projects or events that you are working on that you can tell us about?
Moments That Unite Us: Amplifying Community Voices; Co-Lab: National Alliance for Cross-Sector Collaboration; and the Social Care Advocacy Agenda.
How do you ensure that your work is rooted in the communities you serve?
Conducting community needs assessments: Engaging with community members to learn about their needs, challenges, and priorities.
Collaborating with community members and organizations: Building partnerships with community members and organizations to involve them in the work – gaining their insights, and creating initiatives that reflect their needs.
Remaining attentive to cultural sensitivities: Understanding the cultural differences that can impact the success of the work and striving to ensure that one’s initiatives and materials are respectful and relevant to the communities being served.
Adapting your approach: Being flexible in adapting one’s work and approaches to better align with the changing needs and interests of the communities being served.
Being available: Making yourself available to listen to feedback, concerns, and suggestions from the communities one serves, and being committed to addressing their needs.
What are the challenges in applying a social justice framework to the world of healthcare?
Addressing systemic inequalities: Healthcare systems often reflect and reinforce existing societal inequalities due to unequal access to healthcare resources, discriminatory policies and practices, and other structural barriers. Addressing these systemic inequalities is a critical first step in applying a social justice framework to healthcare.
Balancing competing interests: The principles of social justice and healthcare equity may conflict with other important healthcare goals, such as cost containment, quality improvement, and patient autonomy. Finding a balance among these competing interests is essential when applying a social justice framework within the healthcare system.
Developing effective policy solutions: Social justice in healthcare requires the implementation of policies and practices that address the root causes of health disparities. Developing effective policy solutions that are culturally sensitive, evidence-based, and acceptable to all stakeholders is challenging, but important.
Addressing social determinants of health: Social determinants of health, such as poverty – employment, housing, education, and access to healthcare – have significant impacts on health outcomes. Addressing these social determinants requires a multi-sectoral approach that involves collaboration with non-healthcare sectors.
Overcoming resistance to change: Healthcare systems can be resistant to change, particularly when it involves challenging existing power structures or practices. Overcoming resistance to change and promoting social justice in healthcare requires strong leadership, stakeholder engagement, and a commitment to equitable health outcomes.
What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?
Pie: Performance. Image. Exposure. Develop a strong personal brand and market yourself effectively.
What advice would you give to someone looking to join your field?
Build relationships and get involved in your community.
When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
Create content and attend Marvel movie premieres with my son and husband.
If we were literally around the table right now, then what food would you have brought to share?
Mac & Cheese.