Consumer Health Foundation
The Consumer Health Foundation works to achieve health justice in the Washington, D.C., area through activities that advance the well-being and health of historically underserved communities. In its approach to community health, the foundation has a dual focus: assuring that all residents in the D.C. region have equal access to quality health care and addressing the social and economic conditions that shape the health of our communities.
Over the past three years, the foundation has worked hard to prepare for its next phase by finalizing its strategic plan and clarifying its values around health and racial equity.
“Health is 80 percent not related to health care; it’s related to where you live, your income, what kind of housing you have, access to education, the color of your skin, etc,” says foundation president & CEO Margaret K. O’Bryon. “We have firmly embedded ourselves in the model of looking at all of these other forces which affect health and have started to do more work in that area.”
The foundation has discovered even more opportunities to improve health and the lives of underserved communities since the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Rachel M. Wick, director of policy, planning and special projects, says, “One of the critical things that we’ve been engaged in is doing outreach and education in communities to inform them about what’s in the law. We’ve found that there’s a lot of misinformation out there. In fact, research shows that those who can benefit the most from the law know the least about it.”
Consumer Health believes that the upholding of ACA presents opportunities for other grantmakers to get involved as well, from educating communities to dealing with policy issues. “We think innovations such as engaging patients and raising consumer voices are critical in terms of improving the quality of care and delivering culturally appropriate care. There’s a lot to be done at the local level and many roles funders can play in transforming the health care system,” says Wick. O’Bryon adds, “Funders can also help make those broader social determinant connections when it comes to population health.”
The foundation also is busy preparing for its next leader; O’Bryon will be leaving Consumer Health in the fall of 2012 after a 14-year tenure with the Foundation. “My hope is that we’ve provided a firm foundation that the next person can run with. This foundation continues to have great promise, and the prospects and opportunities for the next phase of its work are very exciting,” she says
This Member Spotlight was written by Meredith Brodbeck, communications associate at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP).