Why SDOH Matter to the City of Aurora and AWC

September 6, 2023

At AWC, we recognize that health is not just about medical care; it's about the environments and opportunities we provide. That's why we're committed to developing transformative solutions that address the root causes of health disparities. Our inclusive approach centers on embracing diversity, celebrating cultural representation, and creating a sense of belonging for everyone.

Health is not solely determined by medical care; it is intricately linked to various social and economic factors that shape our daily lives. These social determinants of health (SDOH) play a pivotal role in determining the well-being of individuals and communities. At AWC, our vision is to create a community where every individual, regardless of their starting point, experiences a profound improvement in their health and overall well-being. We are committed to addressing the critical SDOH in a transformative way that uplifts people from challenging health outcomes to a state of thriving health and empowered agency.

What are Social Determinants of Health?

Social determinants of health refer to the conditions in which people are born, live, work, and age, as well as the broader set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. These determinants include:

  • Economic Stability: Access to stable and secure employment, income, and resources significantly influences health outcomes. Poverty, unemployment, and economic inequality can lead to health disparities.
  • Education: Education plays a critical role in health literacy and access to better job opportunities. Higher educational attainment is associated with improved health and well-being.
  • Neighborhood and Physical Environment: Safe and supportive neighborhoods with access to parks, clean air, affordable housing, and public transportation contribute to better health. Conversely, exposure to environmental hazards can have adverse health effects.
  • Food Access: Having access to fresh, nutritious, and affordable food is essential for maintaining good health. Food insecurity can lead to chronic health conditions.
  • Healthcare Access: Access to quality healthcare services, including primary care, preventive services, and mental health support, is vital for promoting health and preventing illness.
  • Social and Community Context: Social support systems, community engagement, and sense of belonging foster mental and emotional well-being.

The City of Aurora, Colorado, is a diverse and culturally rich community, but it also faces significant health and social disparities related to poverty and racial inequality. The zip codes 80010, 80011, and 80012, which AWC specifically targets, have among the worst self-reported health outcomes in the state. The impact of SDOH on the residents of these zip codes is evident:

  • Economic Disparities: High rates of unemployment, low-income levels, and limited access to affordable housing contribute to economic instability and affect overall health in these communities.
  • Limited Educational Attainment: Lower levels of educational attainment hinder opportunities for better-paying jobs and access to healthcare, perpetuating health disparities.
  • Food Insecurity: Over 65% of the residents in these zip codes have limited access to fresh, healthy produce and meats, leading to food insecurity and associated health issues.
  • Healthcare Disparities: The lack of access to primary care providers and healthcare services in these areas exacerbates health inequalities and reduces overall health outcomes.
  • Social Isolation: Social and community factors, such as limited social support and community engagement, impact mental health and well-being.

Aurora Wellness Community's Response

AWC is driven by a mission to build health, wealth, and well-being in Aurora, with a particular focus on addressing SDOH for residents in the targeted zip codes. By collaboratively working with the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Aurora community, AWC aims to create a community-informed and constituent-driven approach to meet the acute needs of the residents.

Through interprofessional teams of care providers, AWC will focus on addressing the social determinants of health to improve overall health outcomes in the community. The center will serve as a patient-centered healthcare collaborative, emphasizing the importance of access to healthcare, nutritious food, stable housing, and employment opportunities.

AWC's intentional community-building approach recognizes the significance of cultural representation and inclusivity in promoting a sense of belonging and safety for all residents. By centering humans and embracing diversity, AWC aims to create a sustainable, equitable, and transformative impact on the City of Aurora.

The social determinants of health are critical factors that influence the health and well-being of individuals and communities. For the City of Aurora, Colorado, and Aurora Wellness Community, addressing these determinants is key to reducing health disparities, fostering inclusivity, and promoting positive health outcomes. Through their collaborative and community-driven efforts, AWC is striving to create a healthier and more prosperous future for the residents of Aurora, where everyone can thrive and prosper. By acknowledging and acting on the impact of social determinants of health, AWC is making a significant contribution to the overall well-being of the community and setting a powerful example for positive change.

Studies have consistently shown that social determinants of health, such as access to stable housing, nutritious food, education, and employment, significantly impact overall well-being and health outcomes. AWC's focus on addressing these determinants through coordinated, comprehensive, and interprofessional care aligns with the evidence-based approach to improving health, wealth, and well-being. 

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