Week 3: Progress and Musings

Narrowing our focus

At the end of this week, we’ve decided to push ourselves to narrow down our scope. We originally decided that we would concentrate our focus on “option 2”, so focusing on making a tool or educational intervention for healthcare providers. However, after listening to perspectives from current healthcare providers, people in disability research and people with disabilities, we’ve realized that its more important to put our research into the “who” rather than the “what.” Therefore, we’ve decided to narrow our scope to focus specifically on black female community members and their access/relationship to healthcare.

In our previous project brief, we posed the question: “How might we address the education and training system within this hospital to better provide for patients from underserved communities?” As we ramp up our research and interviewing process, we’d like to focus on speaking with people who can share personal stories, experiences and opinions about the state of healthcare access for black women, especially in Pittsburgh.

Reflecting on activities

We met with Kristin to discuss areas of interest and potential community groups to reach out to as we begin first-person research. Given our interest in examining the challenges of intersectional groups in accessing healthcare, we plan to connect with organizations such as Hosanna House and Sojourner House, local groups that offer resources and support to primarily black communities. In doing so, we hope to speak to individuals and begin the process of identifying problem spaces and co-creating solutions. We want to be mindful of these existing institutions to avoid overlap, and instead explore the potential to inform rather than change the system.

One area of interest is connecting people going through healthcare experiences for the first time to people from their communities who have already done so, under the belief that people within the same community have the best chances of connecting with and educating one another. Raising awareness of existing stories and pushing them to the forefront of the local healthcare space can help develop a sense of inclusion for oft-overlooked communities.

In preparation for user interviews, we have been exploring different methods in class to structure those conversations. Starting with our own recognition of surface-level bias, and how that might impact our interactions with individual users, we can then progressively learn about objects, relationships, and beliefs that hold value for them. It provided a little framework, but we anticipate having to dynamically adjust once we actually interview individuals from communities that we’re not a part of.

Method 4 Ideation:

Method 5 Practice:

Our next steps (in the coming days) will be to reach out to these individuals and organizations below to see what kind of primary sourcing we can get.

Healthcare professionals


  • Jim Mercuri, LCSW, heads our social work across all 3 of our family health centers: mercurijh@upmc.edu (from Ann)
  • Gregory (Greg) Castelli, PharmD, faculty here at BG for PharmD residents: castellig@upmc.edu (from Ann)
  • Montanya Thomas Crosby, RN, our nurse manager (head nurse) at BG: thomasm@upmc.edu (from Ann)
  • Marlee Milkis, MD, first year family medicine resident milkismb@upmc.edu (from Ann)
  • Alyssa D’Addezio, MD, 3rd year family medicine resident daddezioas@upmc.edu (from Ann)
  • Amy Schneider, works to combat high suicide rates among vets pittsburghmercy.org
  • UPMC Magee’s outreach program to increase health literacy among pgh’s underserved communities
  • Nicole Travis Magee Director of Womens Outreach Initiatives 412–641–8996
  • Christi Lipinski, BSN, RN Manager of Women’s Outreach Initiatives 412–641–1472

Possible topics/questions:

  • How do medical staff interact with patients with low healthcare literacy/distrust of healthcare systems, and do any disconnects arise from those interactions?
  • What are some anecdotes/scenarios related to healthcare in general?
  • Are there any personal biases/struggles that medical staff encounter when treating/interfacing with individuals from different groups?
  • How might we help medical staff develop tools and insights to better understand and treat patients with intersecting needs; ie. cultural and sociopolitical alongside physical disabilities?

Black Community leaders


  • Pittsburgh Foundation
  • Michael Yonas, Director of Research and Special Initiatives Pittsburgh Foundation, yonasm@pghfdn.org
  • Jenn Sloan, Social Change in Community Philanthropy Fellow, sloanj@pghfdn.org
  • Michelle McMurray, MSW, Director of Grantmaking — Children, Youth and Families mcmurraym@pghfdn.org
  • Elaine Harris; Head of parental support team for parents w/ troubled children, Hosanna House
  • Dr. Kathi R. Elliott, DNP, MSW, CRNP, Gwen’s Girls
  • Tamika Barrett, Circles of Pittsburgh (East Liberty) tbarrett@openhandpgh.org
  • Meghan Briggs, MA, Director of Programs, Sojourner House
  • Charlee Brodskee possible connection
  • House of Ruth, development@houseofruth.org

Possible topics/questions:

  • What are the common pain points members of the black community have when accessing healthcare?
  • What are some potential barriers to healthcare access (biases, stigmas, etc.?)
  • What are existing resources/organizations/infrastructure within the community that can be leveraged to link individuals to healthcare options?
  • How might we inform through existing community organizations?
  • What are the lived experiences of individuals who have faced discrimination against people of color (especially women) in the healthcare system?
  • Do you know of any interventions that currently exist to address racial bias in healthcare?
  • What are the most common ways that women of color experience racial bias when accessing healthcare? Gaslighting?
  • Do you know of any existing people working in this area in the Pittsburgh area?
  • What about bias and prejudice for black community members with disabilities?




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Jaclyn Saik

Jaclyn Saik

Designer. Currently at Asana, previously at Khan Academy. Language + Data + Digital + Print.