Congratulations are in order for Kendra Smith, our Vice President of Community Health. She will soon serve on the Federal Reserve Board’s Community Advisory Council.
Currently Kendra oversees strategy for Mercy Health in our Ohio and Kentucky markets. Her work focuses on evaluating the health and well-being of patients as well as the communities surrounding our facilities.
Kendra started her career by immersing herself in east side Cleveland neighborhoods. There, she spent time listening to the experiences of residents.
“I was working with Cleveland and then Philadelphia’s federal reserve about housing and community development,” she says. “Some members of the federal team thought the health care perspective and social determinants of health perspective would lend itself. I thought it would be a great opportunity to elevate the conversation about health equity and how we talk about the hospital.”
Having worked in Toledo for five years, the past year with Mercy Health, Kendra feels confident in her understanding of the needs of this community. In her new role, she hopes to elevate issues to the federal level.
“There are excellent things happening here, but also gaps in service,” Kendra shares. “Our ministry is in 15 markets and each community has specific needs. To be able to share and elevate that to impact what we see will be really important for the ministry as we think about social determinants.”
Jon Fishpaw, our Government Relations Officer, shares that Kendra’s ability to represent northwest Ohio on the council will benefit both the community and the hospital.
“Her level of expertise and skillset is something that we have not really seen at this level in which we have an additional avenue of approach to addressing the issues of community health,” Jon says. “We have to be as focused as possible to provide as much care that’s affordable and high quality, and this gives all of northwest Ohio an avenue to be part of the change to the health care delivery system.”
Overall, Kendra is hopeful that the council, which is made up of individuals who represent multiple regions, can come together and work to improve conditions in the struggling communities they represent.
“This work is about leveraging relationships, partnerships, and resources,” she says. “Communities compete for the same resources and I don’t know if we’ve always done a good job aligning to have the most impact. Continuing to grow the network will be a fantastic bonus for us.”
As for the month of February, Kendra is inspired by black history in the work she does every day.
“Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate and grow. We are celebrating our culture, our ancestors and the role Black History has in shaping American History. It’s important to acknowledge and embrace the African American experiences of the past and let them inspire our current and future work and contributions. It is our responsibility to ensure that commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and cultural awareness transcend Black History Month and become part of our everyday lives.”