Health Equity

My background as Assistant Secretary for the state’s Health and Human Services Agency, as Dean of Dental Services at Harvard University, and most recently as Chief Community Officer and Senior Vice President at Cambridge Health Alliance reflects my strong commitment and ability to improve the quality of health for all in Somerville. Through an equity lens, I will continue to be a champion for mental health, substance use treatment, maternal health, putting an end to hunger and managing a continued response to the pandemic. I want to build a healthier and more resilient community

 

As Mayor, I will work tirelessly to make Somerville a healthier and more equitable city:

 

  • Expand Access and Services: The pandemic underscored the need to invest and expand the public health infrastructure. And we need to better understand and correct the healthcare disparities that exist.  I will work to ensure greater access to health care through new and expanded locations for healthcare delivery serving a larger population of Somerville residents. Schools can serve as healthcare centers for students with new mobile vans providing services related to healthy eating, oral health, sex education and reproductive rights. I will ask for state funds to establish a Family Resource Center in Somerville to help families enroll in health insurance programs, food access programs while offering other support services.

  • Pandemic Response: We will continue our COVID response and vaccine distribution. I began this work at the Cambridge Health Alliance, where I organized vaccination sites at faith-based organizations and public housing. To face the pandemic as a community, we must create coalitions, commit to meeting people where they live, and work with trusted colleagues who can speak the languages of community members.

  • Substance use treatment and services: We must work to make treatment more available and accessible. In addition to better access to services, I will also focus on alternatives such as harm reduction and addiction recovery. 

  • Seniors: My experience in healthcare will enable me to work with healthcare systems to provide important services at Senior Centers.  Lessons on reducing high blood pressure, having a healthy diet, accessing affordable medications, and reducing social isolation are all important issues facing seniors.

  • Health Navigation: As Mayor, I will establish an Office of Health Navigation to help citizens navigate the often complex healthcare system. Among other duties, this office will answer residents' questions about health insurance coverage, coverage for urgent care, access to mental health services, COVID tests, etc. 

  • Mental Health: Mental health services and support are among the most critical health care needs. As Mayor, I will work with community-based partners to create a continuum of care, addressing individual as well as family issues.  We must also increase mental health services in the public school system and provide mental health screening and support in schools.

  • Maternal Health: Social factors are an underlying cause for the high rates of maternal deaths in the U.S. In other words, insufficient access to health care before, during, and after labor puts mothers and their children at risk.  Women of color die at a 3-4x higher rate than white women during the birthing process because of inadequate services, discrimination that exists in our healthcare systems, and the stress associated with racial discrimination experiences. Additionally, the increasing lack of safe abortions, due to geographical location or financial status, puts women at risk. I believe we need to address the inequities in our healthcare systems, hear the concerns that black and brown women have, and provide everyone access to Medicare to ensure women and their families are more safe and healthy.

  • LGBTQ+: All patients should be asked their name, identified sex, and chosen pronouns. No patient should worry about being accepted as they are. I am committed to removing barriers to healthcare for LGBTQ+ community members and making sure providers are trained to meet the specific needs of the community. There needs to be more information on transgender services.