COVID exposed Connecticut’s underlying health disparities to new audiences, receiving a lot of public attention. But what have we learned? A new report from the CT Health Foundation looks at what went wrong, what went right, and what we can build on to fix this long-standing problem. Going back to the old-normal of inequities isn’t an option.
The report notes that “For changes to be most effective, they must be incorporated widely and into regular practice — not just in temporary programs or individual organizations.” Everyone is part of the solution. Recommendations for state and local government focus on addressing underlying inequities in our state.
Access to services is key. One size does not fit all. The report recommends offering multiple routes to access support, ongoing monitoring of barriers, and how to use what we’ve learned in planning.
Trusted messengers were critical to the public health message. But trusted messengers must be supported and engaged between crises. Policymakers must build relationships over time, and craft messages to reach underserved audiences.
If nothing else, COVID laid bare our state’s neglect of public health. Connecticut needs a functional public health system. Funding and support must continue between emergencies to ensure it’s there when we need it.
Data on disparities — where they are, causes, and solutions – is key to solving problems. But ongoing community input fills in between the data. We don’t know what we don’t know. It also has the added benefit of engaging communities in problem solving.
The report crystalizes the challenges, the lessons, and what we must do to ensure nothing like this happens again. Everyone should read this report, but don’t put it on a shelf when you’re done. Business-as-usual would be policy malpractice.