Equity Upstream

Mid-State Health Network (MSHN) has developed The 2023 “Equity Upstream” Virtual Lecture Series & Learning Collaborative to Reduce Racial & Ethnic Disparities in Opioid Overdose Deaths with national experts who will illuminate different perspectives on the landscape of SUD health disparities with an overview of epidemiological trends in the overdose epidemic, as well as what’s known about why disparities exist (systemic racism, implicit bias, access issues, mistrust of the medical system, cultural issues specific to communities of color, etc.). 

Click below to learn more about our presenters, registration info, etc. To learn more about MSHN's diversity, equality, and inclusion efforts in Region 5, please reach out to Dr. Dani Meier at dani.meier@midstatehealthnetwork.org


The Equity Upstream Initiative:

In a well-known parable (credited to medical sociologist Irving Zola), a villager is standing by a river where people keep floating downstream on the verge of drowning. The villager pulls each drowning person from the water but is quickly overwhelmed. Moreover, the urgency of the need prevents the villager from traveling upstream to determine how these people keep falling into the water in the first place. Finally, joined by other villagers, some continue to focus on the immediate need to save those at risk of drowning while others head upstream to identify and address the source of the crisis. 

In the wake of stark racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes spotlighted by the COVID pandemic, Mid-State Health Network (MSHN) responded to the moral imperative to take action by renewing its efforts to apply an equity lens to the broad scope of its oversight of the public behavioral health system in our 21-county region of Michigan.

Towards that end, MSHN developed the Equity Upstream Initiative which launched in April 2023 with a Spring lecture series featuring national recognized experts who illuminated both the epidemiological landscape of SUD health disparities (i.e., rising overdose deaths in communities of color), as well as what’s known about upstream variables contributing to why disparities exist including but not limited to systemic racism, implicit bias, access issues, mistrust of the medical system, and cultural issues specific to certain populations.

Beyond increasing understanding of upstream systemic issues, the intent of Equity Upstream is to catalyze action across our region and the state. Towards that end, MSHN has also launched a pilot Learning Collaborative of providers who will be working together to translate knowledge into action to improve access and quality of care for all populations and to reduce disparities in SUD health outcomes.