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Aug 20, 2020

There are many incredible people working every day that share a passion for bringing innovative healthcare solutions to large populations of people.  A new area of focus in the effort to do so is called Inclusion Health. Inclusion Health is a developing approach that aims to target extreme health and social inequities. Inclusion health focuses on target populations have common adverse life experiences and risk factors such as poverty, homelessness, imprisonment, drug addiction and childhood trauma that ultimately lead to social isolation. Subsequently, these populations have extremely poor health, multiple illnesses, and are likely to experience premature death. Likely, these people also face numerous barriers to actually accessing health services that they need.

Many times the people that become socially isolated are suffering from something called tri-morbidity: physical sickness, mental illness and addiction.

The Inclusion Health movement aims to highlight these issues and the magnitude and consequences of extreme health inequity in our society, the need for preventive and early intervention approaches, and find ways to improve access to essential health services for individuals harmed by social exclusion.

We are very fortunate to be joined on this episode by an individual that has dedicated his career to helping people that are suffering from social exclusion and all of the health issues that come with that. Stuart Fisk is a passionate and devoted healthcare provider that works to eliminate healthcare inequality.

Stuart Fisk is the Director of the Center for Inclusion Health of Allegheny Health Network and a nurse practitioner with the Positive Health Clinic at Allegheny General Hospital.

Fisk has been involved in HIV activism, research, nursing, and prevention since 1988, and has provided hospice, nursing and medical care for persons living with HIV disease since 1992. He has dedicated his career to helping socially and economically marginalized people and is often asked if his work can be disheartening. He says, that the work isn’t sad, the broken system aimed at serving people in need is disheartening.

After finishing nursing school, Stuart Fisk then worked as a hospice nurse in San Francisco’s gritty Tenderloin district where single-room occupancy hotels served as housing for members of marginalized populations, many with HIV/AIDS who were not getting care. He credits those people for really teaching him not only how to be a nurse but more importantly how to be a human being. That dedication to people fuels his work to this day. Fisk moved to Pittsburgh, PA in 1996 and started to work with the then West Penn Allegheny Health System which is now the Allegheny Health Network. He started an HIV program in 1998.

The idea for the Center for Inclusion Health, formed in 2014, came from his desire to identify populations within the system facing significant barriers to care and change things throughout the system to better serve them.