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OneRouge Community Check -In - Week 159

Louisiana often tops the worst health outcomes lists. But did you know that we have researchers and practitioners who are committed to changing that? The Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science (LaCATS) Center was conceived "to implement significant transformational change in our region". The LA CaTS Community Advisory Boards (CABs) are spread across the state - Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Shreveport - and are comprised of "community leaders from various public health backgrounds, who provide insightful and community relevant feedback that propel health research to truly impact the Louisiana community". But why do we need 3? Well, it is because each Louisiana region has similar yet differentiating needs health. Too rarely do we give that acknowledgement the space and voice it should have. Not just in the outcome of personal choices, but also environmental justice, employment, loss, emotional stress, and relative immigrant issues all present differently depending upon in which part of the state you happen to be. Please, join us on Friday June 9, 2023 as we hear from our featured speakers about healthcare challenges and what this this visionary team is doing in our state to address them:

Enlight, Unite, & Ignite!



Casey Phillips

 Because I would just get like really, really frustrated with the lack of attention that's paid to speakers that are pouring their heart and their lives in committee with lawmakers that are floating back and forth, literally into the back room and receiving text messages from lobbyists that are sitting in the room and repeating it on the microphone.

Like, I had a hard time with that, and I'm just a little too emotionally vested in the work, um, to not leave in handcuffs from that building. So, Jan, what's your perspective on what just happened? I'm still trying to process it all. Look, it's not unusual for them to finish the budget on the last day.

Jan Moller

It is very unusual for them to make that many changes, and not really know what changes they made. I mean the chairman of the finance committee was at the. Microphone, basically saying, you know, you have to pass this budget, but I can't tell you exactly what's in it. And they made some really shameful cuts at the last minute that weren't discussed at all.

So we are really trying to figure out what this a hundred million cut to the Department of Health that hadn't been discussed anywhere in any committee. There was no debate. There had been debate about what happens if you cut 22 million out of the budget and the department had come and said, well, we're gonna, you know, a lot of people are gonna lose Medicaid if we do that because we're trying to make sure people stay enrolled now that the pandemic protections are gone.

This wasn't 22, it was a hundred million. Even the governor at his press conference said he was very surprised. The other big thing that they did was they didn't guarantee the teacher pay raise. And, you know, it's basically a stipend and not a raise because it didn't go into the public school financing formula.

And they couldn't even find 50 million for early childhood when they needed really 200 million. And this happened in a year when there was more money than they had ever had before in the history of Louisiana. I mean, it's one thing to cut the budget, you know, they have to balance the budget every year.

So it's one thing to cut it when you don't have revenue or you know, you have a shortfall. This wasn't a shortfall year. And again there was just absolute chaos in the last half hour. What's happened in previous years is you would see, you know, they'd have a budget. Usually, it happens a few hours before adjourning, not in the last few minutes, but they would get up there and they would explain everything that was in the amendments.

And everybody would have a pretty clear idea of what, what they're voting on, or at least the main parts that they're voting on. But that didn't happen yesterday. And, and it was really, I, I mean, I've been watching these guys for 20 years and I've never seen anything like what happened right at the very end.

Casey Phillips

It was, it was not a proud day. Thank you, Jan, for that perspective. Anybody else? I mean, I'll, I'll talk about the LDH thing in a second as we transition into our speakers this morning. Anybody else that is, uh, that's been there that would like to give their perspective?

Alfreda Tillman Bester

Good morning, Casey. I, first of all, let me just say thank you to Jan and Fletcher and everybody, my friend Melissa Flournoy, who go down there and sit through that every day that they can and I know how devalued sometimes people feel by sitting there and trying to give testimony to people who have already made up their minds about what they're going to do because they have their marching orders.

When I look at what they do, I mean, we're way, way, way past the trust-me stage. And people going and, and voting on trust-me, right? Let me just, you know, we gotta pass this. So trust me, as I put in the chat, that's political malpractice, first of all. And it is a total disrespect and disregard for the people of Louisiana who want something totally different than what they're seeing out of the legislature.

You guys know that I say it every time. Yeah. I, I have a mic until. We go and to the polls and vote for our values and stop sending the same people to the legislature, to congress, to whatever elected body. We're gonna keep getting the same stuff that we've been getting because where the, where our treasure is, that's where we will find our hearts.

Also, nobody, the people who are, who the majority who are making these budgets, there is no indication that they care about the people of Louisiana. We either go and we vote for people who have the best interest of the whole state at heart, or we stay home and we let people who don't care about other people go out and elect our elected officials. And we have to do better. We have to demand better. We have to demand better. Y'all.

Casey Phillips

Thank you, Dr. Bester. Anybody else that would like to lift their voice up even if you don't normally speak, um, if you've been very active in the legislative session and would like to lift anything up from it or of course, talk about the five-minute rush job on our budget last night.

Anything, anybody else?

Flitcher Bell

If I, if I can come back off mute just for a second. Uh, uh, sure. And just, just reemphasize, not only was it not the proper due diligence doing by people of such an authority figure, but I'm, I'm, I'm going, I'm going to be amped to watch what happens now that the Supreme Court ruling in Georgia with the redistricting came out.

How these, uh, so-called legislators handled that coming from the Supreme Court and how it wins Louisiana deal with that. It's gonna be interesting to see if people are gonna quote “do the right thing” or still try to just stick with their political constituents and go against what's proper law.

Casey Phillips

Oh yeah, so this was actually, I believe Pepper. So, Pepper, if you can come off mute. We were originally, uh, this was going to be the policy kind of update or kind of like a summary. And for everyone's mental health, we decided to slightly go in a little bit of a different direction. But it just feels like the way that the session wound down.

Um, you know, again, it's great to see all of you. I am still bringing radical optimism. I do not stop. We are moving forward and the work does continue. So I don't want it to feel on a totally discouraging note, but I mean the blunt reality of what happened last night and the irony in this moment, This time yesterday I was sitting in t this parlays into our speakers, right.

Pepper. I was sitting at the LaCats conference yesterday that our friends from Pennington Biomedical and, um, all their partners through and I, and I started my day at the table with a group of individuals that work for LDH. Right, right. And we were posing some very, I guess, complicated. There was complicated topics and I was just mainly listening to them.

And one of the things was talked about that was actually said was, you know, when you take the conservative, the fiscally conservative approach in the legislative about constantly, constantly reducing overhead in-state departments and you shrink their capacity, but then when things hit, not just like covid, but just in general when the, when the agency needs to be able to function statewide the way that it needs to, but it has such diminished capacity because of funding cuts.

It makes it very, very difficult for, you know, for the system to work and what winds up happening in some cases. There's just a lot of out, out outsourcing to consultants. Right. And people were sitting at a diminished capacity and that's unfortunate because LDH was already kind of in that position.

So yeah, rough night last night at the, at the capitol and, but the work moves on and you gotta keep fighting. So as everybody recharges and gets back into the fight, Ms. Pepper, let's talk about health.

Pepper Roussel

Oh, thank God I thought you were asking my opinion this was about to derail the entire conversation. So anyway, thank y'all for joining me on this Friday morning. Friyay! I will say though, not that anybody asked, Alfreda Tillman-Bester, we need to not just do a better job of picking, uh, people in the voting booth, but also of elevating and choosing candidates to run. You cannot continue to go to the polls and make the choice between the lesser of the two evils and hope that it doesn't come out evil.

It's just not the way that calculation works. So, as we talk about defunding and underfunding, these not only departments, but agencies and administrations that should be doing the work, we find that a lot of the onus is then put upon us as citizens and even community advisory boards that step up in order to fill those gaps.

Now these are folks who generally have full-time gigs doing something else, who are working in an area that may be. Adjacent to, but certainly is not something that they are being paid for. They're doing it out of the goodness and kindness of their hearts. And so with all of that said, I would like to introduce, where are you, Dr.Caldwell? There you are, Jennifer Caldwell, who is going to show up this fine morning in however it is that she wants to be coming off of the LaCats conference yesterday. And I see that we do have a couple of other folks, uh, who are just a part of Katz for funsies. And we will also be having Connie Arnold from Shreveport who's gonna say a few words about the Shreveport Cab. So Jen, you ready?

Jennifer Caldwell

Listen, I'm as ready as I'm going to be in my car this morning. We are about to take down everything from the health equity symposium yesterday, and I believe. Mr. Casey was there. He definitely spoke about that. And we appreciate you coming. Sorry, I didn't get a chance to stop and talk to you longer.

Yesterday was really busy. LaCats is a 10-institution infrastructure that involves LSU Health, Tulane, Pennington, the Children's Hospital, Xavier, and a few other institutions like Ochsner. And our goal is to address chronic health disparities throughout the state.

Our major centers are New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport, which Miss Dr. Connie represents. And what we're aiming to do with LaCats is to be just the hub. We are a full-functioning center with resources, and I am a part of the community engagement and outreach core. And so yesterday our health equity symposium was used to address how can LaCats be more present, more visible.

What should community-engaged research look like? Uh, and so we had an ar an array of topics. Uh, Maxine Crump spoke and she's the CE of the Dialogue on Race to kind of talk about de and I research, uh, and community health and also racism within the state. Then our executive director spoke about the vision for LaCats, Dr. John Kerwin. We had a community and scientist panel, which was so superb. Our moderator was Trey Nelson from Ochsner, and we had a few members of our community advisory board there, as well as some Pennington researchers, and Ms. Renee Antoine from the office, the executive director of the Office of Women's Health was present and they gave a great on the discussion on what community-engaged research looks like, uh, the different levels of institutions that contribute to quality healthcare.

Again, I think this is my third time on this conversation, and the first time I was like, oh my gosh, not my Cats, not LaCats, but cats as far as transportation is so vital to health equity because I'm always talking about access to care.

And we just wrote a grant, and trying to figure out a proper place for it. But we wrote a grant to bring a nutritional clinic to the north side of Baton Rouge. Because those are the communities that we want to service and we want them to be a part of the LaCats Consortium and we want to bring them quality healthcare.

So over here in the medical corridor where I live, work, and play, it's a lot of access to care. But there, you know, with a lot of Dollar Generals, there's not a lot of food sources. There's not a lot of transportation. And so being able to check on your glucose or get to your primary care provider or figure out where nutritious and delicious foods are gonna come from, that's not a food mart or convenience store, is a very different process.

And so LaCats is working with the researchers as well as the community to provide those types of thought-provoking sensitive research paradigms to the greater Louisiana. So I just wanted to stop in and tell you all more about that. We did have some breakout sessions at our conference as well.

There are some really great working professionals in Louisiana there. I'll have to get their names for you, but one team is developing AI for diabetes applications, and Dr. Keller from Lafayette is developing a program called Heart Sense for Cardiovascular Disease. It's an application as well, and so they were a part of our breakout.

Sessions. And then we unveiled Crown, which is going to be the shining jewel of LaCats and Crown stands for Community Research, optimizing Wellness Network. And everybody can join. Anybody on this call can join. And what we hope to do with Crown is to mobilize it beyond a listserv, but we want to give people the opportunity to get more knowledge and information about chronic diseases of their interest and hope that we can grow partnerships between researchers and the community to broaden our network, to increase participation in recruitment, and to also give a voice to the community at the beginning of the research that we do.

Not at the end, not at the middle, uh, but at the very beginning when we're designing and implementing the strategies so that your voices are not only heard but considered and actionable. So that's enough about LA Cats today for me, I think. But if you have any other questions or want me to talk more than you can.

Pepper Roussel

Not enough. Alright, so we've been throwing around some, and by we, I do mean the royal we of you and me, uh, throwing around some, um, acronyms, right? Being the Louisiana Clinical and Translation Science. There's the center that, Dr. Caldwell, just mentioned that is Pennington. And then we've got all of these partners, but the CAB (Community Advisory Board), you just gave that a little bit of a mention and I do want you to expand, expand on that.

What is it for, what does it do and how does it make a difference?

Jennifer Caldwell

Yeah, so our cabs are really important, an integral part of LaCats. Uh, so forgive me for my slight, slight mention. actually, the CAB is who helped put on this health equity symposium. The Baton Rouge Cab was in charge of it. I was in charge of them in some capacity or worked with them.

But once I brought them the ideas, they stripped down what they wanted it to be like. And so they're really the bosses behind the scenes. But our CAB does everything. They are community members. A lot of them are scientists or physicians or have worked in education for a long time. Worked in the governor's office, worked in the local mayor's and city council's offices.

And so our CAB is supposed to be a representation of the city that is located in. So our CABs are in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport again. And what we do besides meet monthly and have lunch, which you all are, are more than welcome to come to our CAB meetings. I'll put my email in the chat too so you can come.

But it's for Baton Rouge. It's usually every third Wednesday of the month. And I think, New Orleans is on Fridays. But what we do with our CAB meetings is we talk about current research, we talk about current events in the city and we figure out ways that we can create change. So the nutrition clinic that I mentioned that we are writing the grant for the CAB and two of our CAB members.

One is Byron Washington. He's over Scotland. Saturdays in Baton Rouge. He's also over the Levitt amp series. That's every Friday until I believe August from 5- 9:00 PM when they're doing concert series. Um, the other person is Dr. Fatima. She works at the Southern Ag in Research Extension Center. And so they do monthly markets.

And so the idea was you already do mar monthly markets and you're giving away free food. How can we encourage these people to eat healthy options? Not only just when you are able to give them free food, right? So our CAB is integral in those parts of research and also keeping our ear to the ground on events, but also making sure that we're being sensitive in the way that we approach communities.

So again, approaching communities from the front end, not the back end, making sure that we're partnering with communities and not in communities. I think that has been the tagline for the year. I was like, I love that. That is great. And so those are some of the things that our calves want us to look forward to doing.

We also invite people like the River Road African American Museum to come to our meetings because they have a wide reach as well in the community and want to grow. And so when we invite people into our CAB meetings, it's because they can help our CAB expand and help our network of people come into LaCats and help us to grow and to be better.

Pepper Roussel

So, another silly question, but I'm gonna ask it anyway. Um, why then is it necessary or why do we have any sort of a need for a community advisory board? What is it that is not happening on the front end that is currently happening on the back end that we wanna shift?

Jennifer Caldwell

Yeah. So I've been joining community-based research for a very long time, and there are a few things, a few reasons why we need community advisory boards.

So one is the sensitivity, just a lot of times, and I think I can say this because I'm a researcher, so researchers can be, tend to be a little arrogant in their, in their method and design. Sometimes they're not considering all of it, all of the factors, or what engagement really is, right?

Sometimes researchers think that, think that their monetary incentive is enough of an engagement, right? Or that they've designed this research properly and your job is to do it as a human being. And that's not how human research works. Maybe in the rat world, but I'm not a mouse researcher. So for humans, your CAB is important because like the first step is sensitivity training, right?

The second step is. The background of a person, the culture of a person, the religious beliefs that a person may have, will, will gauge how they are involved in research, what they would want to participate in, right? Even your pain tolerance, if you don't want to have a lumbar puncture, you're not gonna do it.

I don't care what, you're not gonna do it, I don't care. So just CAB helps with things like that. But also the CAB helps make connections in the network, right? If, you know a pastor and I need to get into a congregation, they are our liaison for implementing that connection and they help us think these things through on the front end.

They also help us with just simple conversation starters. I mean, we had a researcher come in recently and he said he was giving a talk to a group of African Americans, and he used the term you people, and he meant nothing by it. He meant nothing by it at all. But he, he was trying to say like, you, you are people, you're, and he was like, no, just that, that was very dismissive.

Don't do that. So sometimes the CAB helps with things like that. Yeah, our CAB, again, they help bring our ideas into fruition. I've talked to the CAB recently about ethics training and, uh, consent. So they help, they help us know, like, Hey, we've seen this before, but maybe people would be really good at, uh, sitting through something like this and wanting to understand.

And another thing our cab helps us do is to come up with focus groups. And I'm really big on having focus groups before you start research because sometimes they give you ideas that you didn't, you know, know before. But also sometimes focus groups help you understand the community at large that you're willing to serve and work with.

So that, those are some of the things that our CAB, that our CAB helps to facilitate.

Casey Phillips

Jennifer, um, thank you for answering all these questions and giving us an update. Um, one of the things that I wanted to make sure is most relevant to the groups here and then the ones that will get the meeting notes, and I kind of wanna put it at the top, Pepper, was that what I would, uh, what pique my interest?

And then besides supporting what y'all, the work you're doing, I, I was actually really interested to learn more was understanding how community organizations can partner. With the members, the 11 members of LaCats to create studies. Right. And I kept hearing the word “bidirectional relationships”, right? So that it didn't feel so, you know, there's value on both sides. I would say it's almost like a tri-intersectional kind of relationship, cuz it has to be good for the community, it has to be good for LaCats members, and it has to be good for the organizations that are involved in that work so that you can make it, the longevity of it work.

Right. Does that make sense? So what are some, what are some of the opportunities that organizations on this call that are working, whether it's in education, whether it's in health study, on the health side, or whether it is all, you know, that like for instance, we have, I would like to, uh, um, To welcome Mr. Donavan Johnson, from BRCC amongst many things, he's in charge of the food pantry, and then Jesse Watson, who is the executive director of the school, you know, a school and you have, you know, community advocates. How can these organizations plugin with the LAATZ members and create meaningful studies and produce data that ultimately lead to a better life and health outcomes for the human beings that we all serve.

Jennifer Caldwell

So the first way, like I said, is just to contact me and I will assist you, um, with whatever city that you're closest to. Because that would be the first step in joining that CAB, unless you wanna live in Baton Rouge and work for New Orleans, which I totally could understand.

There's such a vibe down there. Um, but that would be the first step is to contact us. And, uh, also our Crown Network will be helping to facilitate those types of relationships. You could also approach us with a project or, um, a problem, and that will help our researchers be able to gauge and say, Hey, here's this problem.

I don't have to think hard about, um, what research needs to be done. We just need to solve this problem. We also, like I said, could invite you to our CAB meetings that are monthly, every third Wednesday of the month at, for Baton Rouge, it's going to be at Pennington. Just let me know you want to come, we'll put you on the agenda, uh, and you can meet our CAB and they can assist you with things that you may want to do.

And also like funds or grant opportunities on and awards. We apply for those as well. Sometimes our CABs need money to do certain things in the community too. So those are the main ways is just to reach out, come to a CAB meeting, tell us what your ideas are, what, how we can help you. And even if you want to be a part of our CAB meeting right now, I don't think we take any new members during the year.

We kind of wait till the end of the year. But coming to a meeting and being an honorary member until I believe almost December is more than enough. You'll be able to get your hands dirty very quickly or clean, but working nevertheless,

Pepper Roussel

And I mentioned this last week, but fun fact, I used to sit on the New Orleans CAB and, uh, yes.

When it Marianna is off of, off of mute. There were a number of things and folks who came forward asking for, um, assistance and that assistance being, finding people. Uh, but that finding of people was after the research had already been done. This wanna lift up that the, the work that the cab does and Marianna, if you wanna, uh, yes.

Lend your voice, um, the work that the CAB does, the community advisory board really is about ensuring that community is centered as opposed to just advising where to go and find people in order to support the work that's already in progress.

Marianna Monterro

Yes. Let me add something. I am Marianna from, Golden Change, a nonprofit organization.

My experience with LaCats is extraordinary and good. I really enjoy being a part of it because of the opportunity to know not only where the resources are, but also what kind of studies are available, and what the community are in need of. They are helping a lot with different organizations.

Right now we have a Covid-19 survey to find out what is going on in the Hispanic community. What I did is invite six different organizations in town to participate in the same project. So the outcome was better because so many were very involved.

The community was very involved and was a sort of community advisory board. You know, for me it is, it is fantastic because I can be a resource for non-English speakers. Thought the CAB I have learned more about research and I can bring that message back to the community. And for me it's fantastic. I will advise anybody who really wants to help a specific audience in the community to be part of LaCats because we not only have the researchers/education but also the network.

Pepper Roussel

Absolutely. And I do wanna say that the New Orleans CAB for sure, I can't speak to Baton Rouge, but the New Orleans CAB was actually reaching out to, uh, the river parishes and making sure that they had all of the tools that they needed in order will ensure that what the researchers were bringing was useful to them.

Marianna you were on that subcommittee, were you not?

Marianna Monterro

Yeah, yeah. It is still going on right now, you know. It is like everybody needs help understanding how to advocate for themselves. What we do, as you said before, is to enhance the experience of the community partners. We are to review what need is there that the community knows about. We ask “Is the community are able to receive this information now”?

But what was the question again?

Pepper Roussel

Of the subcommittee that was reaching out to the, um, to the river parishes and finding out what quest or giving them the questions that they needed to ask the researchers so that they could

Marianna Monterro

Yes. Right. So that they were actually getting what they needed out of the study.

Yes, we are still in the process. Like I said, you know, we are not only group, but we at Golden Change are a Hispanic group giving voice to our specific needs. For example, in New Orleans we have, you know, a situation with contamination of water.

LSU presented that project to us. So they start first where there really is need. The community is really interested in this study. That is another part. Yes, I am involved we are still doing the surveys. We are still working on the information, bringing it from the community, and putting it all together.

Pepper Roussel

Yes. Thank you, ma'am. So, Dr. Caldwell, I'm seeing in the chat that it was an amazing event yesterday. Apologies that I couldn't be there. The things that I find important, especially as we look at the three different areas that these cabs exist. So we've got different needs, I mean similar but not the same needs, whether it is that you're in Shreveport, Baton Rouge, or New Orleans.

Can you share with us anything, uh, just as Marianna was sharing that in, the River Parishes, New Orleans, proper New Orleans East in particular, there are some issues with water contamination? We have lead-contaminated water in the older parts of New Orleans as opposed to mainly because the drinking water is coming through these lead pipes that have been there forever.

Jennifer Caldwell

What are the different needs that are happening or that we see in, uh, Baton Rouge that are parts that our, uh, coalition here might be interested in? Yeah, so forgive me if there's someone more, uh, native to Baton Rouge than I am. I just got here in October. At the end of October. So I'm, I'm learning quickly, but I would definitely say the transportation is one of the top three problems, uh, that I see.

Top problem that I know of is definitely having the longest stretch of petroleum in the old field from here to New Orleans. And so I am trying to design a project that can help people to understand times of day that they can go out of outside especially for those communities that live deep into cancer alley.

Breathing and living in those areas is really harsh. And so that's something that I'm working on within my labs. So I, outside of LaCats, I'm the director of the Public Health Genomics and Health Equity Lab. And so, um, all of my work is genetic-based, but then because it's public health space, I get to deal with the environment and structural racism and institutionalized things.

And then also a little bit of epigenetics. So we just kind of deal with health disparities and health equity as it comes. So those are some of the areas. Also obesity and women's health, and how that may, may not allow you to have optimal reproductive scenarios.

Those are some of the things that I've noticed in Baton Rouge. The food deserts are astonishing. Just if you go on Plank Road and you drive back there, there is a Dollar General every three blocks. And I think that that was really disheartening for me because I was like, well, where are, where do they get fresh food from?

You know, dollar Generals, everything is in a bag. And so when you talk to people about their health behavior, um, but then you don't give them access. It's like, uh, okay, why are you giving a spanking for something that they weren't given? You know, how can you teach them you know, what to do if you're not even giving them the opportunity?

And, then, they might be low-income, right? Often are low-income. And so they can't even go to where the Trader Joe's is. The Trader Joe’s can kind of be, you know, sensibly priced. But they can't get there, you know, or they don't know what it is, or they think that it's not for them. And so, um, again, that's why the nutrition clinic is something we wanna get off the ground.

We do things at Pennington, like rolling food stores. And so I just wanna make sure that here at Pennington we make sure that those food stores offer us to the north side of town and to other communities. And so those are some of the quick and dirty things I know that we're looking to do. I know that we talk with a lot of the pastors here and sometimes we have a pastor's breakfast to get them involved in the research that we wanna do and the different, um, social determinants or, um, chronic diseases that are in the African American community specifically.

I have been talking to my office about, You know, there's a large Hispanic as well as Vietnamese population, particularly in Baton Rouge. And what can we do to get them involved in the LaCats office? So outside of that, as I said, Cancer Alley was probably number one. That was what came to my desk as soon as I got here.

And one of my students, she said in her grandmother's church, they win, ring a bell every time, you know, someone is, is no longer, um, presenting to have cancer, but that when they make the announcement that somebody has cancer, nobody has moved anymore because it's such a reoccurring thing. So those are some of the things that are happening in the Baton Rouge area.

Pepper Roussel

Thank you, ma'am. So I've got another, um, possibly stupid question. We shall see. The whole idea of contamination and issues down in Cancer Alley have been documented at great length by groups like the Bucket Brigade, right? So they were doing air quality testing. Ry St. James just, um, had a final decision that came down. I wanna say it was, well, sometime in 2022.

So it was recent that the Formosa of plastics plant C actually had its permits revoked, uh, that DEQ had, uh, allowed to go through saying that they, uh, that Formosa in and of itself was not creating any cancers and it was not creating asthma that, you know, it's contr, it's contribution really was minimal in and of itself.

Right? So help me with how can, and this is, you know, uh, as we were talking earlier, the. Folks who were already in these spaces, the folks who were doing things, yeah, they can come to the meetings, but how do they impact change? Right? So if one of the things that came across your desk really early was Cancer Alley and for the sake of argument if we had somebody here who was actually working in say, I don't know, um, heart issues, uh, what could they do? Do they apply to work with folks who are on the ground? Do they share their lived experience? What's the process?

Jennifer Caldwell

Ah, that's a great question. So we are revamping a lot of things within LaCats.

So one thing that I want to do is, uh, storytelling. I think that you know, being quiet is a major downfall in research, but storytelling helps to make it relatable to everyone. Because chronic disease is all about your lived experience. And so that's one thing that we're interested in doing. I know that, for example, there are some communities and, um, Um, all companies that found the burial ground of formerly enslaved Africans or enslaved African Americans.

And so being able to talk to them and say like, Hey, can we look at that data? Can we see what, you know, chronic diseases? Can we, can we invest these people may have had, would be an excellent way to be of youth through our office. Um, if you know of, you know, different companies or, or opportunities like you said with the plastic, no, it may not be a direct cause that we can find, but we know that this is impacting our ability to breathe, breathe easily and live alive.

And so just presenting us with the problems, right? Presenting us with the problems and maybe presenting us also with someone that's willing to allow us into their office. Um, nobody's trying to take your job away, but we do want to help to make people more, um, Preventative right on the front end. That's what I think the goal of the research that I like to do is how can a person help themselves?

We can't always do the large structural and, and institutionalized racism. Um, or even just, you know, bad, bad civil planning. We can't always, you know, impact that. But if I could tell somebody small things that they could do for their day, um, I think that that is the best way we can start this. Well, thank you very much.

Pepper Roussel

Appreciate it. I, uh, I saw there, there was a hand up somewhere and I don't wanna call you out Chelsea, but I thought it was yours. Um, Maybe not. Anyway. Um, so short version, long story is that this organization, right? So LaCats CABs, the community advisory boards really are established in order to ensure that we do have the voices of black and brown people advocating for black and brown people.

Uh, one of the things that I thought was really interesting, and I'll say it again, is that I had no clear understanding when drugs are, uh, developed, when they are, um, when they are developed, when they are going through this entire process of, uh, of, of getting to market, that we don't necessarily consider, uh, what the implications are for bodies that are not, uh, cisgendered.

White male. And as we talk about, uh, you how it is that folks can be involved, I wanna make sure that we have covered all of the things that we need to, insofar as making sure that we are representing the folks who are advocating for the folks that we represent on a regular basis. Reverend Anderson, throwing Marcella Hernandez underneath the bus.

Yet again. Reverend Anderson, do you know what? I'm gonna stop you from y from using this woman's name. Get, she can't do everything from Lori. I'm gonna just let you know that right now.

But if you would like to come off mute and share some of the thi have you had an experience with LaCats CABs?

Reverend Anderson

The short answer is kind of a yes and a no. I've worked with Pennington and Floyd for a very long time. I've worked with Alma and the Louisiana Center for Health Equity and their work. So I've had some relationships. I don't think I've ever worked with the LaCats though, but I, I did mentioned it, and yes, I always think Marcella can do everything.

It just comes with the territory. Uh, but the reason I mentioned Marcella is that some of the most important work they do is that as this community becomes increasingly diverse they're able to bring those voices. In a way that I don't think a lot of times as Ms. Caldwell mentioned or often understood every community that speaks Spanish is not the same.

Every person that comes from the African continent does not come from the same religious background, the same ethnic background. And so I think that's one of the particular works that Lori does that is so huge because even if you live in Louisiana, you know, New Orleans isn't the same as Baton Rouge isn't the same as Shreveport, isn't the same as Lake Charles, isn't the same as Lynn Perry.

And those nuances matter to people. So, I have done some work. I'm very excited about what's happening and hope to get it. Some space somewhere I might little plate to at least help facilitate into that. So that's all

Pepper Roussel

I cannot with you. Well, so one of the things that Dr. Caldwell was saying earlier is that in Baton Rouge we do have, I won't call it a crisis, but a need improved transportation so that folks can get to where they need to be. Now, that is certainly not an issue that impacts just those who are black or brown.

It is an issue that impacts anybody who wants to get from point A to point B. Um, and so as the originating co-chair of, uh, transportation and mobility, thank you for chiming in. I appreciate that.

Um, we've got a couple of notes in the chat from Chelsea Morgan with American Heart Association, one being the 2023 Empowered to Serve, and the other a research grant funding opportunity.

Um, Chelsea Morgan, do you have any work that is with LaCats CAB? Because it seems like there could be some overlap here. That's what I'm hoping to get connected to. I know I can't always be on these calls, but I do read the emails to see who's coming to chat and when it could be beneficial for us to share resources.

Chelsea Morgan

So wanted to make sure everyone saw the opportunities that we have open right now, and if you need more information, don't hesitate to email me.

We have funded researchers at those facilities mentioned before, so hoping to get more dollars to Louisiana.

Pepper Roussel

Wouldn't. I love to see that. So yes, Chelsea Morgan's email is in the first chat message, um, There are many different ways that the American Heart Association is actually, uh, funding and supporting work in Baton Rouge. Very much the same way that the different organizations or institutions rather, that the LaCats CAB is involved in participating with LaCats just sort of overarching.

And are there any questions before we let Dr. Caldwell go? Because she had a very busy yesterday. And again, thank you absolutely. Ever so much. Okay. Uh, thank you ever so much for being here, Dr. Cal.

Reverend Anderson

Yes. I just had a very quick question for Dr. Kohler. Uh, are the community colleges part of this project at all?

Jennifer Caldwell

Yes. So we have, um, we have, uh, LSU and Southern, sorry, L S U and Xavier are part of LA Cats. Dill is, is working with us on a different project. And anytime I can get this, I apologize.

Reverend Anderson

I, I wasn't asking about the HBCUs, I was asking about the community and technical colleges.

Jennifer Caldwell

Oh, no, no, no, no. This, so this grant was definitely, uh, uh, written and funded before I got here.

And so I do not know much about the community and technical colleges here. Uh, and we have not been working with them. So if there's any contact or opportunities for that, please let me know.

Reverend Anderson

Thank you. And I will, Yes, ma'am

Jennifer Caldwell

.Floyd said hello. I'm with Floyd now. He said, he said, tell you hello, Reverend Anderson.

Pepper Roussel

Too much. All right. So, congratulations yet again on a successful event yesterday, Dr. Caldwel. I saw that there were a couple of y'all who attended. Does anybody wanna come off chat or excuse me, come off mute and as I've scrolled through the chat to try to figure out who it was and give us some feedback on the event itself?

Marianna Monterro

Yes, I was there. It was very organized. Dr. Laisha Williams did a presentation of our community engagement. That was a very important topic to talk. And I shared a little information about how Golden Change and the Hispanic community is involved with LaCATs. And then there was a lot of interest asking me how the organizations are working.

Also, you know, I found that the, the was a, was a mix of people. There were community members for different organizations and, Professors. It was very integrated group. It was so important to see people from different focus areas at the event in Bat Rouge. But there were also people from New Orleans. I think it was a very successful event.

I also think they should do it more frequently.

Pepper Roussel

Absolutely. The one of the things that I think is really interesting as well is that as we talk about the, uh, Latino, the, uh, Hispanic communities and Spanish speaking communities, um, as well as the other immigrant communities that are in South Louisiana, is it, when we talk about the numbers, when we talk about, uh, giving them access, that we're not always integrating the folks who are either undocumented or who are really very new.

So much so new, uh, to the, in the respect that they don't necessarily speak English.

Marianna Monterro

Yes. Yes. Lemme ask you something, Pepper. When you say lack of transportation, are you talking lack of transportation for what kind of services?

Pepper Roussel

So getting from point A to point B, part of the, uh, transportation mobility, the coalition's objective is to ensure that people can get from home to wherever it is that they need to be, whether it's to school, to work, to a doctor's appointment, even just to visit with friends and family. Right. Um, we're not, uh, I know that often when we think about transportation is particularly public transportation.

Yes. We think about getting folk to work. But work is not the only thing that there is, right? So if we are, uh, going to be a holistic and a, an inclusive group, um, and advocating for folks who need to just get from one place to the next, then expanding that mindset beyond just getting, you know, uh, between Monday and Friday, eight to nine or nine, uh, nine to five or six in the afternoon.

Um, okay. Then we do also need to be able to move people at times that are not, that are outside of that arena, um, like on a Sunday or even on a Saturday afternoon for a birthday party. So, uh, part of part of changing the mindset is really understanding that you, we can be something other than car-centric and wheel-centric, that ensuring that we do have, um, sidewalks that will allow folks to move themselves, whether it be, um, by their own feet, or excuse me, or wheels.

Marianna Monterro

Okay. Because in reference, you know, when we talk about health services or other resources, what we found is it is important to engage community. We ask, “where are the community”?

Our group is very active. it is very accessible too. This is a wonderful, no, extraordinary place to have events here in New Orleans. But we also serve Metairie just on the border with Kenner. And we really feel that it is important to go to, to the community, to offer services and or offer any sources we have.

The CAB is very successful. It is creating a more engaged community. That is our main thing right now.

Pepper Roussel

I love that. Uh, I know that there's a difference between the way that Baton Rouge Public Transportation works and New Orleans Metro. A couple of weeks ago I was actually on the bus and there was coming from Jefferson Parish and trying to get downtown to Canal Street to the library.

And there was a notice that there, that there were going to change the way that the routes work. And I think that there's not really an understanding of how many people not only depend upon public transportation, whether it is they don't have a car or don't want to drive, or can't drive, or don't have a license, or whatever the case might happen to be as a developed country in an area that has hundreds of thousands of people who live there.

We need to ensure that folks can get from place to place. So I love the fact that there is work that's going on, uh, between Jefferson for, for y'all, um, in Jefferson Parish and making sure that folks can get between the two cities. Yeah. We'll call,

are there any other questions before we let Dr. Caldwell go? And before we, before you do leave, Jen, thank you so much for being here.

Jennifer Caldwell

Okay. Couldn't find my mute button. Thank you so much for inviting me. Marianna, thank you so much for coming up from New Orleans yesterday to speak. It was really phenomenal. Uh, people were talking about you and Dr. Lakeisha's talk all afternoon and I look forward to working with One Rouge more. I found out about you all through Floyd and I thank you all are right up our alley for the cats for sure, um, for my office as a research office as well.

And so just keep us in the loop and I'll stop by and check in with you all on Fridays.

Gorgeous. Thanks to you ever so much. Um, and thank you Pepper too for reaching out in a rough week, but a, a wild week. I won't say rough a wild week. But yes, thank you so much for reaching out. I appreciate you being here. You as well, Marianna. I, I didn't even know that you were speaking yesterday. I might have tried to make it, uh,

All right, so I've got a note from Dr. Reverend Anderson in the chat. There are events and places we shouldn't want people to drive. Uh, where would that be?

Reverend Anderson

As somebody who grew up in a city of downtown and other places, there are lots of of events where you have lots of people and not enough space parking and that kind of thing, and it's actually more advantageous to not have people bring a lot of cars.

And so I, I think sometimes we think of, of public transit is sort of the thing that only the people who can't drive. But I've, I've lived in multiple places, San Francisco, St. Louis, other places where the use of public transit has been part of. It has been a way to minimize certain issues around having too many cars jammed up, that kind of thing.

Pepper Roussel

So I do think one of the tools that always gets left out of these conversations is that when you have these big events sometimes and you not have the facility or the space, and that happens a lot in Baton Rouge for all of these people to park, and then parking becomes an illegality issue. That’s a tool that can be used to make something actually safer and more efficient.

So that's what I meant by that statement. Well, thank you ma'am. I hadn't even thought about that. Um, but it also sort of wraps us around to where we started, which was with the legislature, how that, how we've got, uh, new and additional challenges coming up for transportation. Out of this particular session, but, um, I thank all of you as Casey did for all of your tireless work showing up at the capitol and being involved in making sure that we do have, you know, additional and, uh, better resources than we may have had otherwise.

Um, would anybody else like to, uh, to share their experience at the Capitol this year and or the intersection of transportation to healthcare and or their experiences with the LaCats and CAB

Reverend Anderson?

Reverend Anderson

And I would say promises will be the last to happen. I'm not gonna make that promise. Um, for me, I guess there were four things that were so critical. Um, one was just sort of the cruelty of some of the bills. Overarching, there's just no other way to describe it. They were just mean-spirited and that was very hurtful.

Uh, but secondly, uh, happy Juneteenth and slavery still legal and Louisiana that Bill died in the Senate. Um, there was a really, really important bill that ended up getting, uh, exposure, but I don't think people recognized the importance of it initially. And it was a coroner's bill and that bill actually got passed.

But what was kind of important about that particular bill, and especially to the work I do, is that, um, when people die and their bodies go to the corner, and there are certain types of death that are mandatorily investigated by the corner, that it turns out that how corners do it differs almost from every single parish.

Up to and including things like no autopsy, just looking at bodies. And so a lot of victims of crime spoke on that bill and the, the significance of not having those, um, examinations be either standardized or transparent or accountable. And so there was a bill that was passed that has actually now given the standard of what investigate autopsy should be.

And that was sort of an outlast from that. But that's an important one because this coroner investigations actually matter and they matter for a number. So it wasn't a bill that I think a lot of people thought about, but it may turn out to be one of the most important, uh, technical and structural bills that actually came out of this legislature.

And I know the Louisiana Illuminator did some articles on it, but I, I think as the same goes the doubles in the detail, I not encourage anybody to, uh, let Bill and I don't know what the act number is because it's passed now.

And here I was paying attention to concealed carry. Yep. See, that's the big stuff. Sometimes the little stuff is the stuff that actually is the game changer.

Agreed. Agreed. It's like, uh, down ballot voting. Right. The, the, the things that most impact your every day are the things that we pay no attention to. Well, that in gingivitis. But anyway, uh, Casey,

was there anything down ballot or in the legislature that, uh, you were paying attention to that we might have missed? Uh, I, it is just better at this point, point forever not to speak of it and just like move it forward. That go next, go around. Thank you for the opportunity. It, that must not be named. All right folks.

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