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Health Equity Quest addresses climate change and healthcare delivery

On November 8, the Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health and MATTER co-hosted the 2023 Loyola Chicago Health Equity Quest focused on climate change and healthcare delivery. The Health Equity Quest, an annual challenge to catalyze health entrepreneurship and innovation to reduce health inequities and improve population health, is one of the Parkinson School’s signature events.

Jalonne White-Newsome, the nation’s first Federal Chief Environmental Justice Officer at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, served as the keynote speaker. The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), within the Executive Office of the President, is charged with coordinating the federal government’s efforts to improve, preserve, and protect America’s public health and environment.

In addition to White-Newsome's keynote address, "Bridging the gap: Climate Justice and Health Equity," this year’s summit included three panels consisting of national thought leaders, innovators, and stakeholders from community organizations, government, industry, and academia who discussed health inequities caused by climate change and how to make healthcare delivery more sustainable.

To kick off the day, Steven Collens, CEO of MATTER and Dr. Mark Reed, president of Loyola University Chicago, delivered welcome remarks. Elaine Morrato, DrPH, MPH, founding dean of the Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health, served as the emcee for the summit, which attracted over 550 in-person attendees and virtual views. The 600+ registrations were the most for an event with an in-person component held at MATTER this year. It was also one of the largest in-person events hosted by MATTER in 3 years.

The first panel, focused on building resilient communities, was moderated by Karen Weigert, Director, Baumhart Center for Social Enterprise and Responsibility, Loyola University Chicago. Panelists included Ayesha Jaco, Executive Director of West Side United; Elena Grossman, Program Director at the Climate and Health Institute, University of Illinois Chicago; Dr. Linda Rae Murray, former president of the American Public Health Association and former CMO of the Cook County Health System; and Nelson Dunlap, Vice President, Public Policy & External Affairs at Meharry Medical College.

A second panel, moderated by Malik S. Henfield, PhD, Founding Dean of the Institute for Racial Justice, Loyola University Chicago, addressed reducing health inequities caused by climate change. Panelists included Andrew Garman, professor at RUSH University and Senior Leadership Development Advisor, IHF Geneva Sustainability Centre; Gerrin Cheek Butler, Deputy Director of the Office of Health Protection at the Illinois Department of Public Health; and Nancy Kohn, US Eastern Regional Director of Innovation & Equity at Health Care Without Harm.

The final panel featured panelists Allyson Hansen, Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director of the Illinois Medical District; Geneva Brown, Global Environment, Social and Governance and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lead at Cigna; and Dr. Peter Orris, Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Illinois School Public Health and Senior Attending Physician of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, UIC Hospital and Health Sciences System. The panel, moderated by Nancy C. Tuchman, PhD, Founding Dean of the School of Environmental Sustainability, Loyola University Chicago, focused on ways to reduce healthcare’s carbon footprint.

The Health Equity Quest was made possible with support from the endowed Parkinson Innovation Fund through its support of the Parkinson School and the Center for Health Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CHIE).

Collaborators for the summit included Loyola University Chicago’s Baumhart Center for Social Enterprise & Responsibility, Institute for Racial Justice, Office of Sustainability, and School of Environmental Sustainability; and the Geneva Sustainability Centre, powered by the International Hospital Federation; the Health Care Council of Chicago; the Institute for Translational Medicine; RUSH University; and the Women’s Health Initiative Inc.