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Our View from the Frontlines

Our View from the Frontlines:
What are the Gaps Between Policy and Practice
During this Pandemic?

The pandemic has exacerbated the inequities of community health and wellbeing for frontline communities statewide. The disparities in health access and outcomes are symptomatic of the structural problems the pandemic has spotlighted. Amidst a triple crisis, COVID19 and its variants, racial injustice, and climate change, Front and Centered set out to examine the gaps which exist for frontline communities during this especially trying time. We sought to get a preliminary landscape analysis of how COVID19 is impacting BIPOC communities – in terms of basic human needs, health, public education, economic, and community infrastructure. How are governmental, charitable, and private resources reaching BIPOC communities? What we found was that longstanding issues of inequities have become more pronounced. For many frontline communities, whose members are part of the “essential” workforce – agricultural workers – the intersecting challenges have increased their population health vulnerabilities.

How and why did we get here? This Front and Centered Gap Analysis provides insight and finds that with limited inquiries of demographics regarding public health information the government data informs public programs, which risks overlooking the strategic ways in which to direct resources for community health equity. The result? Inequities in health access, information, and resources. Additionally, the rural and urban divide means more than cultural differences, the divide is also about access to adequate health services, food security, economic assistance, internet and technology infrastructure, and culturally responsive information and services.

Digging deeper into the Yakima Valley, we partnered with the University of Washington Department of Environmental and Occupational Health to examine how communities are also holding the line of resiliency for people. We set out to understand how community-based organizations might play a role during this emergent situation and pivoting to serve community members in addition to their mission. A University of Washington Population Health Initiative grant report is out along with this digital pamphlet on Community Resilience and Community Based Organizations, which summarizes our findings. What we found was that community-based organizations play a critical role and often are relegated to becoming popup humanitarian resources that have the potential for becoming part of and helping to contribute towards a more robust infrastructure for ongoing crisis intervention and prevention.