Although our health care system as it exists does not provide for many peoples’ health care needs, there are resources available that can make a difference for uninsured, low-income Pittsburghers if they are aware of them. This has been Be Well! Pittsburgh’s mission.
Be Well! Pittsburgh has been in existence since 2005. We received a Sprout Fund Seed Award in 2006, a Sprout Fund Root Award in 2007, a Pittsburgh 250 Community Connections grant in 2008, an award from the Pittsburgh Creativity Project in 2008, and support from the office of Councilman Patrick Dowd in 2012 and 2013. With this support, we have been able to create, maintain and update our website at www.bewellpgh.org, which averages between 3500 and 4000 hits per month, as well as distribute over 16,000 of our resource booklets in seven editions. We have also attended community events, hosted community health info sessions, hosted two health care fairs, made numerous referrals to health care resources, and made many visits to health care and social service providers to create and maintain working relationships.
Throughout the project’s existence, we have been trying to improve both the content and delivery of our information. We have added resources for people with disabilities and included accessibility information to listings. We have added resources for Spanish speakers, GLBTQ people, veterans, Seniors and homeless people. We have included more alternative and preventive health care resources. We changed our distribution in order to get the information to the people that most need it, where they live and shop and work.
I’ve decided to end the Be Well! Pittsburgh project. It’s as yet unclear what health care coverage will look like and what health care needs and financial struggles for low-income people may emerge when the Affordable Care Act individual coverage mandate takes effect in January of 2014 but that’s a different and new set of challenges. I am committed to universal health care now more than ever, in particular after witnessing the resistance to Medicaid expansion and increased employer responsibility to cover employees. Health care is a human right. Let’s finally ensure that all of our community members have it.
People need to be physically well in order to fully participate in their communities as they exist now, and even more, in order to participate in the social change needed in all of our communities. We cannot possibly heal our world if we are not literally healthy ourselves.
Be Well! Pittsburgh has tried to be a part of efforts to help create informed, connected, healthy communities. It has been a very meaningful eight years! Thank you for this experience!
Be Well! Stay Well!
Jude Vachon May 2013