PRESENTATION 7-23-15: Jeanne Ayers, MN Assistant Commissioner of Health

Jeanne + Lynn Ayers
Jeanne + Lynn Ayers

Lynn Ayers introduced her sister Jeanne to speak to us about the topic of Advancing Health Equity. Raised by farming parents who believed in and demonstrated their commitment to public service, both Lynn and Jeanne entered nursing. Jeanne had roles in migrant worker care, occupational medicine, and finally public health. She is now the Assistant Commissioner in the Minnesota Department of Health and provided us with statistics and conclusions that produce a different perspective than many of us have developed based on surveys and rankings related to the state’s health and standard of living. She defined “health” as a state of being, rather than the absence of disease. Jeanne shared her view of the prerequisites for health: food, peace, shelter, income, stable ecosystem, education, sustainable resources, justice, and medical resources. With unequal access to all these, Jeanne substantiated her belief that even in Minnesota, there is inequity in every person’s ability to be healthy due to policy decisions by governments, cities and individuals. Noting that it is difficult to change a structure that has been in place for decades, and that groups of people have disadvantages that others cannot relate to or recognize, Jeanne responded to spirited questions from our members.