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Eliminating Inequities in HealthAs mentioned in Braveman, Arkin, Orleans, Proctor & Plough (2017), “Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be healthier” (para 1).  Factors such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and residential location, all affect this vision of having a fair chance to live healthier.  This paper will focus on the elements necessary for health equity.  I will discuss the roles that heath care services play in health equity, as well as what heath care rights each individual has.  There is a long history that displays nurses providing care to the patients who are underserved and vulnerable to health disparity.  I will discuss what nurse leaders can do in order to impact the ethical distribution of health care resources, as well as identify barriers to health equity that I myself, as a nurse, have witnessed patients encounter.The Role of Health Care ServicesHealth care services play a very important role in health equity.   Health care services promote and maintain health, prevent and manage disease, which can help in the prevention of disability, chronic illness and death, leading to the achievement of health equity for all Americans (Healthy People 2020, 2017).  When individuals have access to health care services, they can follow up with a primary care physician, which allows for preventative health care, making it more likely to achieve the best health outcomes.Individual Right to Health CareIndividuals have a human right to health, meaning that each person has the right to the highest possible quality of care, which includes access to all medical services, sanitation, adequate food, decent housing, healthy working and living conditions (National Economic & Social Rights Initiative, 2017).  Key principles of the human right to health care were created to ensure that health care services are accessible and of good quality for everyone, on an equitable basis (National Economic & Social Rights Initiative, 2017).  These human right principles are the standards for which our health care system is guided.  According to National Economic & Social Rights Initiative (2017), universality, equity, accountability, transparency and participation are the human rights principles that set the parameters for health care enhancement.  Equity is one of the key principles that depicts the importance of health care services being distributed and accessed according to the need of a person. The human right to health is recognized in multiple declarations and conventions that the United States has committed to following for moving toward a health care system in which everyone in the United States is able to get the care that they need (National Economic & Social Rights Initiative, 2017).The Impact of Nurse Leaders  “In medical clinics, only fifteen percent of patients are screened for associated socioeconomic needs” (Conner, 2015, para 4).  Nurses need to screen more often for health risk factors associated with social determinants of health, such as socioeconomic status, social support networks and access to health care.  When a patient is assessed and found to have a poor socioeconomic status, this health inequity is placing the patient at a greater risk of developing a chronic illness, more so than an individual of a higher socioeconomic status.  Nurse leaders must take it upon themselves to improve the impact that social determinants have on determining health care outcomes.  According to Conner (2015), Nurses can promote social health in both a direct and indirect manner through the prevention of illness and advocacy for patients, families, communities and the population in general.  Health inequity mainly occurs because of the lack of caring within a society.  The idea of caring should be engrained within a nurse’s mind and is a major factor in what is central to being a great nurse.  It is the nurse’s ability to care that makes the profession best suited for leadership in reducing health disparities.  However, having caring qualities, performing an assessment screen to identify health disparities, and making referrals for social work and care management to get involved, is not enough.  Nurses also should get in touch with other community organizations, such as government benefit programs or faith-based institutions, to help the homeless, addicts and other individuals with an abundance of needs, truly becoming involved in the community.Barriers to Health EquityThe barriers to health equity that I have seen patients encounter at my own health care facility are having no health insurance coverage, high cost of care, lack of culturally competent care and lack of available health services.  These barriers have made it difficult for the patients to get preventive services and delayed quality care services, leaving the patient’s health needs unmet.  Many of these patients needed referrals to social work and care management.  According to Healthy People 2020 (2017), there are more people living in the United States who have gained health insurance coverage due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.  However, there is still a large number of Americans that are lacking health insurance or live in areas lacking access to primary care services.  Making it difficult to overcome these barriers (Healthy People 2020, 2017).  Increasing the use of telehealth for the delivery of health care can help decrease this barrier.  ConclusionFuture efforts will need to focus on the distribution of training provided to nurse leaders for delivering culturally competent care to diverse populations.  Specific issues that need continuous monitoring include access to insurance coverage, as well as addressing heath care disparities through possible solutions such as telehealth or a standardized screening for health disparities.  Nurses need to make sure to include findings from a community assessment into the development of a patient’s care plan.  This will help for the nurse to provide more thorough education to the patient on associated health risks and prevention.  Ultimately, reducing health disparities and contributing to greater health equity.

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