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Expanding Access to Palliative Care

From Our Neighborhood News, Fall 2023

Compared with white populations, Black communities have traditionally had significantly less access to palliative care. Through a $50,000 Racial Equity and Community Partnership Grant, the palliative care team in the Feinberg School of Medicine’s Department of Medicine has helped the Bronzeville neighborhood’s Bright Star Community Outreach address that disparity.

“As a partner, our palliative medicine section has provided palliative care education to the Bronzeville community in the form of multiple focus groups, presentations, and community health fairs,” says associate professor of medicine Joshua Hauser. “We helped design surveys and focus groups to gather data about Bronzeville residents’ experience with palliative care and hospice. In addition, we are working with Bright Star to create a standing community advisory board to advise us about Bronzeville residents’ palliative care needs.”

Bright Star’s Erron Williams says that because of these community outreach efforts, “not only have our Greater Bronzeville residents learned the distinction between palliative care and hospice, but through a myriad of events and support, we have been able to bring comfort to family members who had no idea these resources existed or were available to our community.”

The grant has strengthened Bright Star’s almost decade-long relationship with Northwestern Medicine, a collaboration that has previously promoted violence prevention, mental health, and chronic disease management. In extending that connection, this latest partnership furthers the objectives of Northwestern Medicine’s palliative care group. “We have a strategic goal to bet- ter understand the needs and experiences of African American patients and their families and to better serve those needs,” Hauser explains. “We believe that meeting this goal fundamentally involves incorporating the voices of the communities we serve.”

Williams says that by enabling Bright Star to advance awareness of palliative care, the grant has helped the organization work toward its goal of “self-sufficient, livable communities, strong and thriving in positive thought and behavior.” He adds, “This funding support for our efforts to reduce social determinants of health through awareness has made a difference.”

TO LEARN MORE about Bright Star, visit brightstarcommunityoutreach.com.