Dr. Laura Gerald: Standing up Together for North Carolina

Happy holidays friends and colleagues!

In a year that has been filled with opportunities and challenges for our state and community, four words have been on my mind.

“Committed. Growing. Equitable. Together.”

These words sit with me as I look at how we’ve been collaborating this past year, working for thriving communities and thriving residents, equitable access to health care and equitable health outcomes.

We’re committed to our residents’ health and well-being.

We believe everyone in North Carolina should have access to the same health opportunities as the next person.

That’s why we’re working with partners to expand Medicaid in NC, to ensure quality health care access for hundreds of thousands of hardworking residents. To understand its benefits, we partnered with the Cone Health Foundation to develop a non-partisan analysis–prepared by researchers at The George Washington University. Research shows that Medicaid expansion is one of the best ways to combat both the opioid epidemic and the infant mortality rate. In addition, it could create 37,000 NC jobs and bring billions in economic benefits to our state.

Our commitment runs deep. To truly ensure our residents’ health improves, we need to address historic health inequities in our state. We are supporting the state’s Medicaid Transformation efforts and helping to ensure Medicaid recipients’ voices are at the table and that health disparities are decreased, rather than exacerbated. We also need to look at social, economic and environmental factors impacting people’s health–which can be even more important than what happens in the clinic and hospital. That’s why we’re supporting communities to work with health care providers to address these social drivers of health, in key areas across the state through Healthy Opportunities Pilots.

We’re growing.

Our special initiative Healthy Places NC launched in the Southeast – expanding to 10 counties as we further our commitment to improve the health of residents in some of our state’s most rural and under-resourced counties.  We’re now collaborating with communities in Robeson, Bladen, and Columbus counties in improving health outcomes and access to quality health care.

We’re also committed to access to quality education and our children.

Our special initiative Great Expectations works to ensure that all children in Forsyth County enter kindergarten ready to learn and leave set for success—regardless of their race, location, or economic status. To get there, we’re working with the PreK Priority, supporting access to high quality, universal pre-K for all of Forsyth’s County’s young children. We’re also working to ensure informal caregivers—family, friends, and neighbors—have access to excellent, culturally responsive educational resources and training, because that’s where many children are currently receiving care.

We’re also working with our partners in Forsyth County and in rural areas to increase awareness and education about childhood trauma. We’re interested in supporting community-based approaches to reduce and prevent this trauma so all children can learn and thrive.

We’re striving to make North Carolina equitable.

We work for equity to ensure every North Carolina resident has the opportunity and support they need to thrive, regardless of the color of their skin, their income, and where they live.

For too long, many people of color and those with low incomes have been left out of opportunity and denied resources needed to succeed. That’s why we are working for an inclusive economy in Forsyth County – our own backyard — to broaden participation in a thriving economy.

We’re doing this together.

We’re having community conversations across our state, ensuring everyone has a voice in helping their community overcome inequities and succeed. We believe this is an essential way to achieve Mrs. Reynolds vision of improving North Carolina’s residents’ health and well-being, in 2019 and beyond.

We so look forward to working together with you in 2020! We are expanding our staff and invite you to check out our job opportunities in the coming months.

All of us at the Trust wish you the happiest holiday season. We can’t wait to roll up our sleeves in the New Year and stand up together for North Carolina.

All the best,

Dr. Laura Gerald, MD, MPH

President, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust