Her Low-Income Patients Were Labeled 'Noncompliant and Defiant.' So She Raised $500 Million to Build a Healthcare Company That Put Them First.
Working as a doctor, Toyin Ajayi witnessed how the healthcare system fails traumatized patients in marginalized communities-down to the language it uses to describe them. She started Cityblock Health to change the equation.
When Toyin Ajayi, MD, began practicing family medicine in Boston, she cared for a patient for several years. “She had a number of chronic physical health diagnoses and a long history of mental health challenges, and she was often hospitalized because she hadn’t taken her medicines,” Ajayi says. “One time, when I was following up with her after yet another hospitalization, she told me, ‘I just want you to know, I am not noncompliant and defiant.’ In healthcare we develop language that is not person-centered, and is sometimes even disparaging, and she had heard people label her that way. That was really profound for me, and it helped me formulate ideas about what it looks like to earn the trust of people we serve. It also started me down a path of trying to understand how chronic trauma shows up in people’s health needs.”
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