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Official Covenant

February 17, 2011

Phoenix Urban Health Collective

Action ° Outreach ° Advocacy

1.      The Phoenix Urban Health Collective (PUHC) is a non-institutional collective of healthcare professionals and community health organizers who are dedicated to promoting community health among vulnerable populations in the Greater Phoenix Area.

a.      PUHC recognizes that poor health is not evenly distributed within our Valley: minorities, the poor, and immigrant populations suffer from a disproportionate share of the public health burden.  If these disparities are to be resolved, we must understand and address the socio-political determinants of poor community health status.   Factors such as (but not limited to) environmental pollution, inadequate public investment in education, a shortage of affordable housing, lack of access to primary care, and  the criminalization of homeless and immigrant populations all serve to perpetuate and expand these health disparities.

b.      In addition to the services generally recognized as being fundamental to public health – such as access to healthy food and primary care —  the PUHC believes that healthy communities cannot exist without the following:

i.      Economic justice: In this country, poverty is the most significant risk factor for negative health alterations.  A community that cannot afford healthy food, or that lacks access to quality primary care or safe, healthy jobs & housing, can never be truly healthy.

ii.      Community organization and empowerment:  Members of healthy communities know what their rights are, know how to identify and articulate problems within their communities, and are empowered to advocate for their own interests, and the interests of their communities.

iii.      Education: healthy communities have access to quality education that provides people of all ages with the ability to understand the world around them, and to advance themselves and their communities economically, spiritually, and socially.

iv.      Safety: Healthy communities do not face disproportionate risk of violence. Whether a community is struggling with domestic violence, gang violence, or state sponsored violence such as police brutality or raids that separate immigrant families, communities must be empowered to work together to secure their ability to live together without fear.

2)   Membership:  As medical professionals and community health organizers, we are committed to supporting – through direct action, public outreach, and political advocacy – underserved communities who are struggling to remove the structural barriers to improved community health status.

a.    PUHC shall be organized into three teams: Action, Outreach, and Advocacy. All PUHC members are members of one or more teams.  While many members may not be directly involved in all of the above groups, all members commit to maintaining an awareness of the work that all three teams are doing.

b.     In order to become official members, prospective members must attend a training session for the team they are joining, and assist in one PUHC supported action.

c.     Members are expected to attend at least two PUHC supported events per year in order to maintain active membership.

d.     When representing PUHC,  members shall act professionally at all times.

e.     Membership may be suspended or revoked by the consensus of the rest of the group.

3.     Action:  When large groups of people are mobilized in protest, EMS response times may be delayed due to logistical difficulties secondary to the crowds themselves, or due to protocols that prevent them from entering a situation “Until it has been secured”.    Furthermore, many members of marginalized communities may be uncomfortable interacting with EMS.  For this reason PUHC Action team will, when possible, organize a team of protest medics as a solidarity presence in support of marginalized communities that are asserting their rights.

a.     The PUHC Action team shall consist of medical professionals with current licensure and/or EMT certification.  Exceptions may be made by consensus.

b.     The PUHC is not neutral in issues of structural injustice, believing that neutrality always benefits the oppressor — never the oppressed.  Nevertheless, PUHC members commit to offering quality care to any person who is injured at an action, regardless of the patient’s ideology or role.  This includes counter-protestors, law enforcement, and bystanders.  When the number of people injured exceeds our capacity to serve, members shall triage based on their best clinical judgment, without regard for the patients ideology.

c.     The Phoenix Urban Health Collective is non-hierarchical.   Every member practices within the scope of their own training and/or licensure, and each is independently liable for their own actions.

4.     Outreach: PUHC seeks to provide community health outreach for underserved communities.

a.     The PUHC Outreach Team shall consist of medical professionals, dietitians,  psychiatric health professionals, social workers, and others  who are committed to providing a community health presence for underserved communities.

b.     The PUHC Outreach Team seeks to support underserved communities through screenings, public health education, and community health support.

5.    Advocacy: Often, poor community health is the product of public policies that are reactionary, rather than evidence based, and which result in the structural oppression of certain subsets of the population.  PUHC seeks to promote evidence based solutions to public health challenges.

a.     The PUHC advocacy team shall consist of community organizers and logisticians who are interested in organizing around issues at the intersection of community health and human rights.

b.     The Advocacy Team shall work to organize marginalized communities around community health issues.

c.     The Advocacy Team shall work to educate society about how poor community health is constructed, and to create dialogue around issues of structural oppression, racism, empowerment, and their relationship to community health status, as well as the role, practice, and definition of liberation medicine.

6.     Structure:  PUHC is consensus based, and non-hierarchical.

a.     PUHC shall have general meetings on an as-needed basis.  Reasonable effort shall be made to provide adequate notice to all members.

b.     Each team shall, by consensus, chose a convener who shall serve a one year term. The Convener shall have no power or authority above the rest of the team, but shall be responsible for the following tasks:

i.      Promoting communication within their team

ii.      Promoting communication between teams.

iii.      Ensuring that the consensus process is honored, and that all voices are heard.

iv.      Scheduling meetings, and managing their teams’ list-serve.

c.     Changes or exceptions to this covenant, and official position statements may be suggested by any member of the Collective by writing the proposed minute in a Google Doc and e-mailing a link for the document to the PUHC list-serve for peer-review.   All minutes must pass the peer-review by consensus in order to become official.  Any member who does not respond to the proposed minute within five days forfeits their right to participate in the peer-review process for that minute.

d.     Decisions other than the approval of position statements and changes or exceptions to the covenant may be made by the process described in 5(b), or in an open meeting by consensus of the members present.  Decisions made in an open meeting shall be disseminated via the PUHC list-serve within 48 hours after the meeting.

7.     Protocols:  All members agree to adhere to the following protocols when representing PUHC.

a.     When representing PUHC, members are expected  to limit public statements to the following:

i.       Talking points informed by official position statements (see section 5(b) for information about position statements).

ii.      Statements informed by clinical knowledge and direct observation – eg. “At this point we can confirm that six people were injured, including two children.”  or “Significant exposure to pepper spray can lead to serious complications, especially among  children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing cardio-pulmonary illness”.

b.     When serving at a PUHC supported action, all members agree to act within the limits of their training and competency.

c.     When providing patient care, members are expected to make every reasonable effort to protect the privacy and autonomy of our patients.

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