NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Sunday May 22nd 2022

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“Power Over” or “Shared Power”: Which Will It Be?

by Susan Gust Northwestern Hospital began in 1882 in a humble abode with a simple mission ---to serve the community by aiding its women and children. This is truly a well-intended and honorable goal. It is not that different now from the many human service nonprofits in our community which begin with the singular, compelling and well-meaning goal of service to specific populations or need in the community. But, even with the best of intentions and most stellar delivery model, there is a power imbalance in the “service” model. There is a community or specific group of people that need to be served and those who are deemed to be the “servers”, usually because of their relationship to privilege, race and/or class. This seems to have been true as one reflects on the development of the health care industry that is so rooted in the Phillips Community, in particular. The health care-providing institutions changed, evolved and grew bigger, not always any longer addressing the needs of the surrounding geographic community but often addressing the needs of people in a 5-state area. But, the surrounding geographic community changed, evolved and grew bigger, too. The relationship between the institutions and the geographic community waxed and waned, struggled and achieved over the decades. Agreements were made on how many square blocks could be consumed by the buildings for delivery of health care. Agreements were broken. A Community Advisory Committee (CAC) was formed by Abbott Northwestern as a place to have debates and dialogue. Now it has been disbanded. People come, people go. Sometimes harsh words were aimed from various sides of the spectrum with the intention to do harm. The institutions had power through place and size and by virtue of being an institution dealing with the health of people, no less. The very essence of dealing with people”'s health elevates an institution to a towering place of authority. But, the surrounding [...]

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