Today, we are just one day away from what is quite possibly the most consequential election in American history. This year, the health of our nation is on the ballot like never before. As we go to the polls and mail our ballots, our masks and socially distanced lines are a reminder that we are still in the midst of a global pandemic that has hit our community especially hard.
Since March, COVID-19 has caused great loss, feelings of isolation and fear. In the midst of this truly unprecedented situation, many of the challenges facing our community like food insecurity, domestic violence, education and poverty have become more pronounced. These key determinants of health compound the already poor health outcomes across the county. In fact, studies have shown that these non-clinical factors or Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) can account for as much as 80%-90% of health outcomes.
As a health care provider and part of this community, we recognize that we have a responsibility which extends beyond the services provided within our clinics. We believe that being a true community partner means taking action when you see a need. This belief led us to partner with local leaders in faith, health, business and nonprofits to host free pop-up COVID-19 testing in neighborhoods across the county.
As Election Day drew closer, it became clear that we had a responsibility help get our community engaged. We know that voting can help empower individuals to take control of their circumstances and it can help amplify the voices and concerns of traditionally underrepresented and marginalized communities. Most importantly, we know that participation in elections promotes more just and responsive policies.
“We know that Wyandotte County has traditionally had some of the lowest rates of voter turnout in the state. We also know that our community has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 related job loss, food insecurity, loss of employer-based health insurance, and more. It was clear that we needed to do something.”– Brandi Finocchario, Chief Administrative Officer
Beginning in September, we started engaging with our staff about the importance of voting. We provided voter registration resources, and hosted a raffle to encourage staff to register. Through this initiative, we were able to reach 98% registration among our eligible Kansas staff. On Election Day, all three of our clinics across Wyandotte County will be closed until 1:00 PM to give our staff ample time to vote.
“We understand that encouraging registration is only the first step. As an employer, we have the opportunity to create a culture that celebrates voting. That’s why we decided to give our staff the morning off on Election Day to go vote.”– Patrick Sallee, CEO
During this time, we began engaging with our community on the issue of voting. In the weeks leading up to the registration deadline, we had staff volunteer to sit in our waiting room help patients register, find their polling locations, and answer other questions. We also launched a digital media campaign using the hashtag #VibrantVote. This campaign shared key information on registration, mail-in ballots, polling locations and more.
While we are just one day away from the election, we recognize that the work we have started does not end on November 3rd, but rather, it continues day in and day out, even after the excitement fades and the stakes lower. Our responsibility to serve this community is something that we take very seriously, and we are honored to continue this work for years to come. Go vote. Volunteer. Make your voice heard.