Aetna Better Health Of Illinois Wants To Engage And Educate The Community About Health Issues

Aetna Better Health of Illinois is helping to solve health inequities through preventative services like screenings and immunizations. Photo provided by Flowers Communications Group.
Aetna Better Health of Illinois is helping to solve health inequities through preventative services like screenings and immunizations. Photo provided by Flowers Communications Group.

Aetna Better Health Of Illinois Wants To Engage And Educate The Community About Health Issues

By Tia Carol Jones

When it comes to preventing disease, promoting health, and delivering healthcare to racial and ethnic minorities, Shaan Trotter believes race has no metabolism and there is nothing about a person’s race that makes them automatically susceptible to diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Instead, he believes there are other factors that need to be taken into consideration. Those factors include access to clean water and healthy foods.

Trotter, Health Equity Officer of Aetna Better Health of Illinois, has a background in public health and has been trained in disease prevention and control in dense areas.

“At Aetna Better Health of Illinois, when we are looking at these chronic conditions and other diseases that start to impact our members, we work from multiple frames, starting off not with the individual’s race as being the primary driver of the disease, but instead looking at the conditions around them that could trigger the disease or if they already have it, just what the other methods of maintenance and curative therapies can be brought to light,” Trotter said.

He added, Aetna Better Health of Illinois does apply a racial equity lens to its work. Applying a racial equity lens is a way to uncover the underlying assumptions that might contribute to and produce some unequal protections for a member. The healthcare provider tries to incorporate key principles that help protect individuals from environmental and political drivers.

 Trotter, for his part, tries to adopt a public health prevention model in all of the strategies and practices to consider members health and safety and health promotion. The provider also looks at ways to redress the disproportionate impacts through targeted actions and align their resources appropriately to get individuals the care they need.

When it comes to diabetes, Trotter said proximity to sugar makes people more susceptible to diabetes. He said, there is a greater likelihood that poorer and more rural communities are closer to products that will trigger the intake of so much sugar that their insulin resistance spikes. He added that, communities where there is access to fresh fruits and vegetables and environmental elements is what keeps them protected.

“It becomes a matter of working on two different levels; One, engaging and educating the community on what their opportunities are and how they can begin to access better food options, increasing their physical activity, lessening their stress and of course, appropriate weight management, which are some of the key things that put someone at risk for Type 2 diabetes,” Trotter said.

Trotter said with Aetna Better Health of Illinois doing some of their community outreach, they know some individuals might be pre-diabetic and they have prescreening opportunities. Once they are made aware of it, they receive the appropriate education and work with their clinical provider to find out what they can do to reverse the pre-diabetes they are at risk of developing.

Once members are diagnosed with diabetes, Trotter said it is essential for them to work with a team of case managers to help them understand what it means and how to adjust to their new diagnosis, as well as what they need to do to maintain their health.

When it comes to high blood pressure, Trotter said diet, physical activity, managing stress and getting rest, as well as having access to appropriate care are essential. He said reducing access to sodium and taking care of their hearts are important. He added that, making sure people know their risks and symptoms, being aware of their family history of cardiovascular conditions and finding ways to do appropriate screenings is also helpful.

For more information about Aetna Better Health of Illinois, visit www.aetnabetterhealth.com/illinois-medicaid.

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