Physicians must “advocate for social, economic, educational, and political changes that ameliorate suffering and contribute to human well-being.” – The American Medical Association, Declaration of Professional Responsibility, March 2020
LouHealth was founded by seven WUSM students in March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. After the pandemic reached the St. Louis region, it soon became apparent that many long standing problems were worsening the pandemic’s impact in our community. For example, enduring health disparities in our community contributed to striking racial disparities in COVID-19 trajectories and outcomes. Similarly, incarcerated individuals were at heightened risk of COVID-19 due to the underlying problem of mass incarceration and overcrowding in prisons. To address trends like these, they founded LouHealth with the goal of longitudinally addressing the health of our community through public health advocacy and health policy advocacy.
LouHealth’s model is to partner with local community organizations who are already doing health advocacy work in the St. Louis region and Missouri. With this approach, LouHealth is able to amplify the efforts of its partners as well as develop new advocacy initiatives with their guidance, rather than reinventing the wheel and unnecessarily replicating valuable work that is already being done in the community. In this sense, LouHealth serves as a clearinghouse to connect its 200+ Student Advocate base with opportunities to advocate for a healthier St. Louis and to facilitate students’ advocacy efforts through strategy meetings and collaboration. Some of LouHealth’s partner organizations include Missouri Healthcare for All, The Bail Project, and Arch City Defenders. For a complete list of partners, visit LouHealth’s website.
How to Get Involved
In addition to its leadership team, LouHealth has two categories of Advocates so that individuals may choose the level of involvement and engagement that suits their passions and interests:
- General Advocates – General Advocates are individuals who want to stay apprised of what LouHealth is doing and who respond to partners’ advocacy asks that align with the student’s interests. Asks include tasks like signing petitions, contacting their legislators, or writing op-eds.
- Clinical Advocates – Clinical Advocates, LouHealth’s higher tier of advocacy engagement, are Advocates who sit on a Team’s committee and attend weekly or biweekly (every other week) strategy meetings for that team. These individuals are involved in the strategizing, planning, and execution of LouHealth Initiatives, and some may serve as Initiative Leads. (An example of this would be the Medicaid Expansion Lead.)