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Celebrate Women’s History Month. Know your risks, and be your own healthcare advocate.

As we continue to honor Women’s History Month, we continue to advocate for health equity. For many women, that means learning more about general healthcare and your risks.

Sheri Mitchell is a community outreach program manager for MultiCare. She was born and raised in Tacoma and says helping her community always mattered to her.

“As a nurse, I appreciate the opportunity to meet the community where they reside and break down the disparities that exist for the BIPOC communities when seeking access to healthcare,” she said. “Our goal is to target the underrepresented and underserved communities and educate them about diabetes and heart disease so they can make informed decisions when seeking care.”

Womens History Month_Sheri Mitchell_Facebook

History of women promoting advocacy.

The work Mitchell does with MultiCare is like that of Dr. Virginia M. Alexander. After graduating from medical school in 1925, Alexander struggled to find work. As a Black woman in 1925, she faced discrimination.

Alexander founded Aspiranto Health Home in Philadelphia in 1931, where she provided free medical care for the poorest members of the community. She focused on mothers and babies, providing post-natal services. She practiced medicine and educated people about health disparities between races and genders.

Later in her career, she became the physician in charge of women students at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Her work opened doors for many Black people and women without access to healthcare to get the help they needed.

Her work shined a light on gender inequities. The education she provided led her students and others to advocate for fair health outcomes for women. We’re still building on that work today.

Knowledge saves lives.

Some women are taught to be modest and to nurture others before themselves. That means they often put their own needs behind the needs of those around them.

That can harm women’s health, as can a lack of awareness. For instance, only about half of women know heart disease is the number 1 killer of women in the U.S. That lack of knowledge can be fatal. Some heart disease symptoms are silent or not diagnosed correctly until an emergency. Some are mistaken for something else, like acid reflux or signs of aging.

Mitchell and her team give women the facts they need to protect and advocate for their health. They host community outreach events where you can get things like:

  • Blood pressure screenings.
  • Type 2 diabetes risk assessments.
  • Information about strokes and other general medical resources.

She says events like these, “make the community feel more welcome and apt to come in and take advantage of those resources.”

Gender equity is health equity.

Your gender plays an important role in health equity. Know your healthcare needs and use that knowledge to advocate for yourself!

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