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Wade Norwoodnorwood-wade

CEO, Common Ground Health

Years in current role: 3

What do you enjoy most about your role?

As the leader of the health research and planning organization for the nine-county Rochester-Finger Lakes region, I have the privilege of working with a staff that finds powerful ways to leverage our data, analytics, community engagement and convening to find common ground on complex health issues. I greatly enjoy helping foster community collaboration that results in real solutions to improve health care and health equity — and to control medical costs — in our region.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve dealt with over the past year?

Like everyone else, dealing with the impact of COVID-19 has been my greatest challenge. Responding to this public health emergency — and getting vaccines in people’s arms — has been a full-court press at Common Ground, as the pandemic has shone a bright light on health inequities and how urgently we need to reinforce our commitment to addressing housing, education, employment, transportation and other social determinants of health. Common Ground has been fortunate to partner with Monroe County, the city of Rochester, the hospital systems, insurers and many others on these efforts.

What do you see as the biggest changes in the health care industry in the next 3-5 years?

The health care industry needs to address racism as a public health crisis. Common Ground’s recent report: The Color of Health: The Devastating Toll of Racism on Black Lives, documents how structural racism is behind the higher rates of COVID mortality for Black people; behind higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and asthma; and behind more Black mothers dying in childbirth. To address such unfair and preventable disparities, we need to develop health interventions through a racial-equity lens, invest in pipeline programs to increase the number of Black doctors and health care professionals, and advocate for anti-racist policies and practices.

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