“This is a movement, not a moment,” Rev. Dr. Gina M. Stewart, Senior Pastor at Christ Missionary Baptist Church, remarked about My Sister’s Keeper, a comprehensive health initiative of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare focused on the health disparities of black women.
“From our Community Health Needs Assessment, we found that black women make up more than a quarter of the population in the Mid-South. Furthermore, they are impacted disproportionately by many health conditions,” explained Dr. Albert Mosley, SVP and Chief Mission Integration Officer at Methodist.
“We realized that we could not have this conversation without having the people who we were talking about at the table. So, we brought together a phenomenal committee of black women to help us think through these health issues and how Methodist could take action.”
Following the guidance of the committee, Methodist launched My Sister’s Keeper with five key goals: to increase knowledge of health services for black women; assist in building the personal, communal, and political power of black women; expand the capacity of black women leaders; provide health education for black women; and conduct and share research regarding the health issues of black women.
In November 2018, the inaugural My Sister’s Keeper Summit was held, attracting over 100 black female religious, political and thought leaders from the Mid-South. The day-long event included worship, an “Ask the Docs” panel with five black female physicians, breakout sessions on health-related topics, and opportunities for biometric screenings.
“Participants said this is the first time that they have been to an event in the Mid-South where black female leaders gathered in one space to talk about the health and wholeness of black women,” Dr. Mosley added.
Planning is already underway for the second My Sister’s Keeper Summit as well as a new initiative, “Kitchen Table Talks,” which offer opportunities for smaller groups to gather in the community and at Methodist facilities.
The next steps of the movement will be informed by the committee and surveys that will aim to further understand the services and programs this community wants and needs.
“If we actually accomplish half of the goals that are stated, Methodist will have transformed the Mid-South community,” Dr. Mosley said. “We are truly aiming to serve more than a quarter of the community. We know from research that black women are ‘the keepers of health’ in the black community. The medical issues that affect the black community are going to be advanced by black women.”