Breanna Lathrop

Breanna Lathrop
Location: Atlanta, Georgia Cohort Start Year: 2019 Project Topics: Behavioral and Mental Health, Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Health Care Access, Health Care Quality, Immigrants and Refugees, Nurses and Nursing, Public, Population and Community Health, Social Sector/Non-Profit Populations Served: Adults (21-64 years), African-American/Black, At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations, Faith-Based Groups, Hispanic/Latino/Latinx, Homeless Populations, Immigrants and Refugees, Low-Income Communities, Older Adults (65+), Urban Communities, Women's Health
Chief Operating Officer
Good Samaritan Health Center

The health care system bears daily witness to the physical and psychological impact of health inequity, yet medical care and health behavior change alone can prevent at best only 50 percent of premature deaths in the United States. Health care systems wanting to advance health equity need to incorporate social determinants of health within the context of racism, poverty, and other systems of oppression in their work. Yet health care systems are already working at full capacity and are plagued by their own histories of hierarchy, paternalism, exclusivity, and bias. This is the reality in metro Atlanta, where Breanna works as a family nurse practitioner and chief operating officer for a non-profit clinic. Life expectancy in the neighborhood is 23 years less than neighborhoods just miles away, a trend visible throughout the U.S.

Promoting health equity requires health care systems to transform, collaborating cross-sector, partnering with patients and communities, and engaging in structure level change while meeting real and urgent individual needs. Breanna focuses on trust and dignity as the basis for new collaborations and processes that make health equity work more approachable and successful in the clinical setting. She envisions health equity not only for her patients, who have always been her greatest teachers, but also for the free and charitable care sector and the health care system at large. She builds on the knowledge and work of many before her who imagine the health care system as not only a place that mitigates the damage of inequities, but leads toward a new understanding of health. She believes the health care system, through authentic and introspective change, listening, innovation, and advocacy can help the nation advance its narrative of and trajectory toward health equity.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Creating a Virtual Learning Hub to Assist Free & Charitable Clinics to Operationalize a Culture of Health Equity
The COVID-19 pandemic and increased focus on racial inequities have highlighted persistent health disparities and the impact of social determinants of health. Over 1,400 free and charitable clinics in the U.S. have firsthand knowledge of the social determinants affecting their communities. These clinics are actively seeking strategies to foster health equity but often lack the internal capacity to address them. They need easy-to-access, relevant tools and strategies to create a culture of health equity to guide clinic operations. I will partner with Americares to develop a free, asynchronous virtual learning hub, designed to assist clinics in creating a culture with policies, procedures, and programs that promote health equity. This hub will provide tools, templates, and frameworks for clinic leadership, as well as modules designed for all staff and volunteers. Users can interact with the system for personal growth and can progress to making changes at a system level within their organizations. Access will be distributed nationally through Americares’ network, as well as other strategic leaders in the free and charitable care community, including ECHO, the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, the Christian Community Health Fellowship, and the Good Sam Institute.

Breanna Lathrop is a family nurse practitioner whose years in clinical practice have initiated a journey of unlearning and relearning, transforming her understanding of health equity and her role in it. Working in the free and charitable clinic sector, her patients have experienced marginalization, discrimination, and have been denied access to health care and other social resources. Her relationships with her patients inform her work as a clinic leader, researcher, author, speaker, and consultant. She uses her experience to challenge health care system norms and facilitate conversation and change both within the health care system and beyond.


Click here to watch Breanna’s Legacy Project video.