Tuesday was the grand opening celebration for the new home of the Institute for Health Equity, a Part of Norton Healthcare. The institute moved into The Village @ West Jefferson, an office building at the southeast corner of 12th and Jefferson streets, part of MOLO Village CDC, in the Russell neighborhood of Louisville.

“The purpose of the Institute for Health Equity is to identify and remove obstacles that prevent people from receiving the health care they deserve, as well as to eliminate disparities in care. This includes increasing access to care and partnering with local organizations,” said Russell F. Cox, president and CEO, Norton Healthcare. “Health care is not just a privilege, but a right. We are committed to doing what is necessary so that everyone has access to the health care they need.”

“We have been hard at work since the institute was established in June 2020, and I am excited now to be in our permanent location, where we will provide additional resources and support to the community,” said Kelly C. McCants, M.D., executive director, Institute for Health Equity. “The Russell neighborhood is in the midst of transformational growth focused on meeting the needs of the community. We are thrilled to be in this beautiful, new multiuse facility, founded by The Rev. Dr. Jamesetta Ferguson, as a resource for West Louisville and beyond.

“We are positioning the Institute for Health Equity to serve as a central hub for community-based organizations and resources to come together to address factors that contribute to health disparities, including housing, healthy food options, transportation and child care,” Dr. McCants said. “This space is a major step in reaching that goal.”

The 3,751-square-foot space was built to accommodate staff members, community meeting space, consultation rooms for social work and mental health consultations, and a telehealth room where patients can have one-on-one appointments with medical providers through videoconferencing technology. The space also has educational resources for health and well-being.

Artwork by Russell neighborhood native Charles Rice is showcased throughout the space.

In June 2020, Cox outlined five imperatives to address health and racial inequalities. They include:

  1. Establishing the Institute for Health Equity
  2. Ensuring access to primary care for everyone
  3. Committing to mirror our community within the Norton Healthcare leadership team
  4. Providing education and advocacy for employees on health policy issues
  5. Investing an additional $20 million over five years in underserved areas

Dr. McCants outlined three primary goals for the first year of the Institute for Health Equity:

  1. Anchor vulnerable neighborhoods with expanded health resources by positioning the Institute for Health Equity as a vital resource, or central hub, for residents in West Louisville to connect with key services. Having the institute based in Russell will improve the ability to provide and coordinate resources for the broader community.
  2. Improve access to health care in underserved areas. For example, Norton Healthcare’s Community Health Needs Assessment zeroed in on specific ZIP codes that have a shortage of pediatric and women’s health services. Women often are the heads of households, and they need easier access to screenings and other resources, which the institute will work to deliver.
  3. Bring awareness to the historical disparities impacting certain communities. Work to eliminate barriers locally, regionally and nationally.

Housing the Institute for Health Equity in The Village @ West Jefferson continues Norton Healthcare’s investment in West Louisville.

The institute has partnered with trusted community and faith organizations to provide COVID-19 testing, flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines to underserved areas.

The organization is the naming sponsor of Louisville Urban League’s Norton Healthcare Sports & Learning Center. Norton Healthcare opened a primary care office in the Republic Bank Foundation YMCA building and expanded it to include a COVID-19 testing and vaccine clinic. The organization also recently provided a $1.2 million grant to Simmons College of Kentucky. The grant will help the historically black college in West Louisville with educational and program initiatives, as well as support facility improvements to enhance student and faculty experiences.

In addition, with a $1.25 million grant from the Norton Healthcare Foundation, Norton Healthcare recently purchased a second mobile prevention center to make it easier for community members, including those in the Russell neighborhood, to receive services such as mammograms, well-woman exams and colon cancer screenings. The mobile unit soon will have a dedicated schedule in specific areas of the Louisville community.

Permanent medical offices are being planned in West and South Louisville to further expand access to care. More information will be shared when it’s available.

“The premise of the institute is that health equity can only be achieved when every person has a fair opportunity to achieve their full health potential. I’m proud that Norton Healthcare is striving for health equity and is committing time, talent and resources toward this essential human right,” Dr. McCants said. “I look forward to being more firmly planted within the communities we primarily serve.”