Introducing Urban Health Watch

Urban Health Watch is a space to share recipes to help each other find the balance between healthy and tasty, but it’s also a space to remind each other about getting our blood pressure checked.  It is a place where experts and specialists will be invited to enlighten us, but your personal stories and recommendations will often do the same thing.  Sitting with each other to talk about the basics means that we can sit with each other and talk about the tough ones.’

PROVIDENCE, RI – Like other urban centers, Providence, Rhode Island is a place of opportunities and obstacles, resources and dead-ends, and hopefulness and hopelessness.  When you are living or working in the city, how do you tap into the first half instead of becoming trapped by the disastrous second?  How do you spread the word when there are great programs, events, or instructions, but so many people that need to be reached?

Back in the day, according to Janis Furlong, families often lived together in one unit, and this made it easier to share information, ask questions, and see examples – at least in terms of health issues.  Today’s families are more scattered, observes Furlong, which means that dealing with things like common ailments can sometimes seem foreign.

Furlong would know.  She is a nurse and Community Health Educator who works with Lifespan and out among different organizations. For nearly ten years she has delivered the Healthwise Workshop, a program based on sharing tips to locate, react to and address everyday injuries and serious illnesses like sore throats, earaches and seizures.  Besides the presentation and interaction with instructors like Furlong, participants receive a resource book complete with a chapter on low-cost options, a table of contents and index, and a guide to recognizing and identifying symptoms.

“The goal is to have participants make better health decisions,” says Furlong, “and to improve doctor-patient partnerships.”  On Tuesday, June 30 she presented to a teen parents leadership group convened and run by the Urban League of RI.

“We have gone to senior centers, Headstart staff, parents, and every age in between…and we try to reach uninsured/under-served populations.  As basic as it may seem,” says Furlong, “to run through the book and show the participants how to access information from the book is essential.  They will feel more comfortable and in control when the situation may be chaotic.”

But that’s the thing.  Even if it is basic, it is also necessary and right on time.  Sitting with each other to talk about the basics means that we can sit with each other and talk about the tough ones.  And that is the point in Urban Health Watch.  When we think of health disparities and who is being effected by diseases like diabetes, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, and cancer, it’s about time that we stop to talk to one another.

Urban Health Watch is a space to share recipes to help each other find the balance between healthy and tasty, but it’s also a space to remind each other about getting our blood pressure checked.  It is a place where experts and specialists will be invited to enlighten us, but your personal stories and recommendations will often do the same thing.  We invite you to leave us comments today with your thoughts or updates, or email us at urbanhealthri@gmail.com. Your events, article ideas and submissions on health and general feedback are valued.

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