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Campaign ‘Empowers’ Chicago Women To Live Healthier

posted by Dr. Robert L. Hilliard, Jr.

on May 26, 2016

I saw a commercial for cold medicine the other day. A red-nosed woman is coughing and sneezing and walks into a room to presumably tell her boss she needs to take a sick day. The big reveal: The woman’s “boss” is actually her daughter—an adorable toddler in a princess-meets-superhero costume who looks surprised by the request. Suddenly a voiceover says, “Moms don’t take sick days …”

It’s true. Moms are always on the clock. And the commercial reminded me how important it is for our mothers and the women in our lives, the caregivers for all, to take time to care for themselves.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women make 80 percent of health care decisions for their families, taking the lead role in choosing health plans, scheduling doctor’s appointments, and making sure their loved ones are getting the care they need.

But it’s often difficult for women to take a step back from caring for others to manage their own health needs. In a recent study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, women cited cost, lack of time, and lack of child care among the top reasons for delaying or forgoing health care in the past year.

To address this issue, beginning in June, Harmony Health Plan of Illinois, a subsidiary of WellCare Health Plans, Inc., is launching EmPowerHer, EmPowerMe, EmPowerUs, a new campaign to provide women in Cook County, Illinois, with the tools they need to take better care of themselves and their loved ones.

The community-based initiative is designed to inspire women to obtain preventive care for illnesses and highlight the importance of getting key screenings, such as breast and cervical cancer exams. EmPowerHer also will address health concerns, such as asthma, diabetes, prenatal and postpartum care, well-child visits, and childhood obesity, which disproportionately affect low-income African-American and Hispanic communities like Englewood, Lawndale, Little Village, Pullman, Berwyn, and Cicero.

Because it is not always easy for women to live a healthy lifestyle, EmPowerHer will meet women where they live with the information they need to prioritize their health. To do this, Harmony is partnering with several local community- and faith-based organizations such as the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago and Bright Pink to spread the word and for additional support.

Throughout 2016, EmPowerHer will share its message on local radio and it will be seen on CTA buses and shelters. Women also will be able to grab a copy of EmPowerHer magazine, a power-packed publication providing helpful and practical health tips that the entire community can adopt.

The truth is: Moms do need sick days. All women do. The EmPowerHer campaign is about helping them to need fewer.

 Dr. Robert L. Hilliard, Jr. is an obstetrician/gynecologist and president of Harmony Health Plan in Illinois, a subsidiary of WellCare Health Plans, Inc.