Common Table Health Alliance (CTHA) is a community-based, multi-stakeholder, regional healthcare collaborative that engages diverse community partners and stakeholders dedicated to improving the health outcomes of the Midsouth. The nonprofit organization began in 2000 as Justice in Healthcare Foundation, when a group of health advocates gathered around the table at one of their homes, the common table so to speak. It became Healthy Memphis Common Table in 2003, and eventually Common Table Health Alliance in 2014.
“These compassionate healthcare professionals came together around a dining room table and said Memphis has so many critical health issues and we need to do something different to address them.” said Kiki Hall, CTHA CEO. “The best way to address them is in a collaborative way. There are a lot of amazing organizations doing great work, but they’re working in silos and having fragmented results. At the end of the day we’re all neighbors. We have to work together to help each other and take care of one another.”
That collaborative effort includes local hospital systems, insurance providers, education institutions, advocacy groups and corporations, among others. Some of the partners are business competitors, yes, but they realize by coming together they can make a greater impact with more sustainable results. Some of CTHA’s community efforts have included initiatives focused on the diabetes epidemic, breast cancer, childhood obesity and health literacy. Current initiatives are the Memphis Breast Cancer Consortium (MBCC) and a new initiative to improve the health and wellness of our youth.
The MBCC brings together organizations and individuals fighting breast cancer disparities. Several years ago, a study found that African-American women were dying from breast cancer twice as much as Caucasian women in the Memphis area. Funding from AVON Breast Cancer Crusade provided resources to establish the Memphis Breast Cancer Consortium with the purpose of reducing breast cancer mortality disparity rates, increasing the number of underserved women receiving education, screening mammograms and treatment, and providing a unified forum for effective collaboration. Common Table Health Alliance and the MBCC recently published a report that shows Memphis facilities do have the capacity and quality needed to improve the screening rate from 60 percent to 80 percent. “All of the screening facilities are highly accredited and Memphis has many resources in the community for women who don’t have insurance or can’t afford screening,” Hall said.
The effort to get kids healthy starts with healthcare access and getting more children to wellness visits. Certainly, education is key, but there are many other issues affecting the health of children in our community. “Our youth are developing serious chronic illnesses earlier in life which will obviously affect their future health, as well as their life and work trajectory,” Hall says. “We are developing a comprehensive community-wide approach to improve the health of our youth, but we’re not doing it alone. It’s pulling together those already working in various areas of youth health, so we can have more impactful results.”
While Common Table Health Alliance needs the talents and passions of those who want to improve the health of our community, it also seeks support from those who want to invest in a collaborative approach to reducing health disparities and improving overall health outcomes in Memphis and Shelby County. For more information about Common Table Health Alliance, visit commontablehealth.org.
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