Woodlawn wellness center to bring holistic, alternative medicine in effort to fight healthcare inequality

CHICAGO (WLS) -- "I think that there are enough, as they say, woke people now, who are going to keep the pressure on the whole system," said Dr. Constance D. Shabazz, Salaam Community Wellness Center founder & CEO.

Dr. Shabazz is one of those people. She's promising change in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood with the Salaam Community Wellness Center, which will offer holistic and alternative medicine when it opens in May.

"We wanted to make sure that not only were we addressing the disparities that have been long-standing in the communities, but we came in with a different model," Dr. Shabazz said.

Dr. Carl Lambert said there have been conversations in the medical community over the past year about healthcare inequality, but not enough action.

"How are we embedding ourselves into the community to create systems and processes and stakeholders that will help our patients get the access they need," asked Dr. Lambert, a Rush University Medical College assistant professor.

Dr. Lambert said social determinants of health, such as economic stability, neighborhood environment and education, need to be tackled to create lasting change.

"Sometimes it's a blame of, well this population -- they did it to themselves," Dr. Lambert said. "It's not historically. There was withdrawal of resources from these populations and this is what you get."

The Chicago Community Trust is working to address that racial wealth gap.

"You should not have, in one city, such different life outcomes and so there's a lot of work that needs to be done," said Dr. Helene Gayle, president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust.

After the past year, one group of Black runners is more determined to change their community one step at a time by pushing each other to live healthier lives.

Milton Garrett lost about 75 pounds since the start of the pandemic.

"I knew I didn't want to be on blood pressure medicine all my life. I knew I wanted to have a better quality of life," Garrett said. "I tell people, this if I could do it, anybody can."

With everyone working together now, Dr. Gayle believes the city will be in better shape in the future.

"If we have the right kind of will and resolve, and think smartly about ways we can have an impact," Dr. Gayle said. "I think we can start to see that kind of disparity being chipped away and ultimately reduced."
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