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  • Writer's pictureJohn Thomas

Hartford Health Initiative Is Here!

We are checking in with tenants who have been on the Swift Campus for over a year!

Chavon Hamilton-Burgess and HHI are in the Health Outcome Wheel House for North Hartford!

The confidence Chavon Hamilton-Burgess exudes is infectious. It’s not the kind people wear like a mask. It comes from within. And, people can tell. In her business, that trait positions her uniquely to connect with people and the source of her passion—helping them live better and longer lives.

We recently caught up with Hamilton-Burgess in her Hartford Health Initiative (HHI) office here on the Swift Campus. She’s been here over a year and we wanted to check in on her. It’s not that we’re worried. Chavon Hamilton Burgess is a public health researcher with an edge.

As Founder/Executive Director of HHI, her world is defined by data sets and what they represent concerning health outcomes in North Hartford. But, Hamilton-Burgess’ efforts push beyond those numbers. It’s about the whole person and their whole environment.

“Lack of education, healthy food, transportation, finances, housing and access to health resources are all major social drivers of the negative health outcomes and disparities we see in the data. We are connectors. We connect people to a network of partners and services from right here in the neighborhood,” Hamilton-Burgess said. HHI Partners include; the Trinity Health Care Triple Aim Collaborative, Blue Hills Civic Association, Compass Peacebuilders, Hartford Knights, Northside Church, the YMCA, Advocacy to Legacy and the Urban League of Greater Hartford.

HHI has settled into their Swift Factory digs nicely. “It’s dead smack in the middle of the neighborhood we do our work in. You can’t beat that,” she said. “And, the Swift Staff is supportive of us in helping us grow our operations. And, I like having the meeting space and outdoor event space,” Hamilton-Burgess said.

When Hamilton-Burgess first got to Swift, she was a flurry of activity organizing the events through which she created those connections, a soft introduction between resident and service provider attendees. But, this year, things have evolved under the Covid-19 Pandemic. And, it’s different but not all bad. Challenges provided opportunities for growth.

“We’re doing a lot of tele-services now to cover what we would normally do in person in the community or at events. We’re doing surveys and care coordination as well. It might stay as an option,” she said.

Hamilton-Burgess’ experiences as a life-long North Hartford resident allows her to dig deep into the culture driving the community’s data. A graduate of Weaver High School, she went on to Atlanta Emory University and took a job with the Boston Public Health Commission. Hamilton-Burgess then came back home and joined Hartford’s Institute for Community Research where she realized services did not necessarily have to change, but, they needed to be better coordinated. And, it’s all about better communication.

“People don’t talk about the negative health outcomes they are experiencing here in North Hartford enough. That’s why we are in business. We get this information directly to the community and work with the community to involve their voice in everything we do,” Burgess said.

Hamilton Burgess knows North Hartford culture well enough to know she has great challenges. It was when asked about her goals facing into those challenges that a spirit of confidence began to shine. “In five years, we hope to be an organization that helps build a culture of health the neighborhoods. Through education, awareness and increased access to equitable health resources, we can make that happen and it will be led by the people in this community.”

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