This Women’s History Month, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH)’s Office of Women’s Health and Community Health (OWHCH) is launching its “Listen to H.E.R.: Hearing, Empowering, Responding” town hall series, with the next town hall taking place in Hammond.
This town hall will be held on Monday, March 27, from 5-8 p.m. at Southeastern Louisiana University’s Student Union Theater, 303 Union Ave. It is the second of nine town halls charged with raising awareness of the new OWHCH, promoting the many health services and programs available to residents, and collecting women’s health needs to inform the office’s priorities and future programming; the first town hall was held in Baton Rouge on March 21.
The town hall on March 27 in Hammond will feature discussions facilitated by subject matter experts on health issues impacting women across the lifespan, opportunities for networking, activities like yoga and meditation, and exhibitions by community and healthcare provider partners.
Members of the public can register online for the event on March 27 here.
“OWHCH is committed to advancing women’s and community health across the lifespan. To effectively do that, both for women in Hammond and throughout our state, we know we must start by meeting our communities where they are,” said OWHCH Assistant Secretary Torrie Harris, DrPH, MPH. “Our first town hall in Baton Rouge was a great success — we gathered and listened to our community members share their concerns and dreams for their families and region — and I look forward to sitting down with and hearing from our residents in Hammond and the surrounding area. Together, we can remove barriers, reduce disparities and move our state forward.”
“This Women’s History Month, I am reminded both of how far we have come and how much further we need to go to improve women’s health in Louisiana,” said Rep. Malinda White. “But I don’t think everyone understands how interconnected health is to other issues. Louisiana has one of the highest maternal mortality rates. Among the most common causes are homicide, accidental overdose, suicide, motor vehicle crashes and chronic conditions like hypertension. We can make meaningful progress in women’s health but it will take all of us working together across all of these different disciplines to do so — and that is why the creation of OWHCH and these town halls are so needed.”
“This Women’s History Month, it’s important that we celebrate all we have accomplished while recognizing where we have more work to do. Whether it’s better protecting sexual assault survivors or more effectively supporting pregnant women, we need to hear directly from women and our communities,” said Sen. Beth Mizell. “I look forward to learning from our residents what they need and then making a plan with the new OWHCH to do something about it.”
The primary goal of OWHCH, created during the 2022 Legislative Session, is to provide an agency-wide focus on women’s health outcomes through policy, education, evidence-based practices, programs and services. The office aims to be a clearinghouse, coordinating agency and resource center for women’s health data and strategies, focusing on issues such as needs throughout a woman’s life; chronic or acute conditions; access to healthcare; how poverty impacts women’s health; leading causes of morbidity and mortality and health disparities.
Over the course of FY23, OWHCH will also develop its first annual report for submission to LDH leadership, legislators and Governor John Bel Edwards.
Operationalizing the Office of Women’s Health and Community Health is one of 17 key initiatives outlined in LDH’s FY23 business plan titled “Invest: Teaming Up for a Stronger LDH and a Healthier Louisiana.”
Visit ldh.la.gov/womenshealth to learn more about the OWHCH and stay up to date on the new office’s activities.