Social Impact Internships: Bhav Jain (’23)
Health Equity and Barriers to Care in the Age of COVID-19
Having been able to serve the Cambridge area this past summer as part of my virtual internship with the Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), sponsored by the PKG Center’s Social Impact internship program, I was excited to continue with new projects into the fall semester as well. Working with Kathy Betts, Senior Director of the Department of Community Health Improvement at CHA, as well as a host of other community leaders and healthcare professionals, provided me with insight into the challenges brought upon local healthcare systems by the coronavirus pandemic.
From September, I conducted a research study alongside the Community Health Improvement team entitled “COVID-19 and Immigrant Health Equity” to better understand perceptions surrounding COVID-19 and barriers to care among immigrant populations in the Cambridge area. The study involved focus group discussions with Central American Latinos and Haitians who seek care in their native languages. As with my previous experiences, I interacted with these community members and developed further insight on tangible effects of the pandemic. The next steps will include presenting our data and analysis in a comprehensive report for publication over the next few weeks. Additionally, we are currently working on setting up an engaging virtual experience for residents in the Cambridge area to interact with each other to combat loneliness and mental health problems spurred on by the pandemic. This will involve calling senior residents in the coming weeks, preparing the technology to host the virtual sessions, and recruiting volunteers from within CHA and the local community to facilitate the sessions.
The final major project that I focused on during the internship was an evaluation of a local community-based food justice organization working to improve health and equity through urban agriculture, youth workforce development, and equitable policy change. As part of CHA’s efforts to promote work focused on improving the social determinants of healthcare, I worked with the founder of Everett Community Growers, who also works on the CHA Community Health Improvement team, to conduct a pilot organizational and outcome evaluation assessment to better position the group for future grant applications and improve the internal structure of the team. This involved weekly meetings with the staff, regular surveys, interviews, and collaboration with a multitude of local food justice organizations. I am currently working on completing the final report for this evaluation to prepare the team for future evaluations over the next few months.
Guided by the desire to improve community health, I am grateful to have been able to continue supplementing my coursework in economics and the biological sciences with this social impact internship at the Cambridge Health Alliance this past fall. The opportunity to engage with people working in a wide array of projects impacting health, both from the policy and biological sides, was meaningful and exciting. Given the unprecedented pandemic we are currently experiencing, this social impact internship highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration between community health workers, physicians, social justice advocates, and citizens alike.
Want to learn more about the PKG Social Impact Internships Program? Visit our webpage to learn about ELO opportunities for IAP and spring 2021, and stay tuned for information for summer 2021 postings!