February marks Black History Month, a tribute to African American men and women who have made significant contributions to their communities. And for 2022, the theme is Black Health and Wellness, focusing on scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine. This year, NewCourtland Germantown Home is pleased to recognize Dr. Cornelius ‘Neil’ Pitts.
Dr. Pitts attended Philadelphia public schools and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pitts’ mother and grandmother believed in the importance of education and taught him to follow his dreams. The world of science was the direction his family seemed to focus on, his father was an electronics engineer, and his brother is an astronomer. Another large influence was his faith community and Senior Pastor, Rev. Leon H. Sullivan, who help mold and encourage his natural talents and gifts to empower and help people.
From a public health perspective, there has been a disruption in the social determinants of health within the African American and Latin communities. Serving as President, Dr. Pitts is making powerful strides with Miriam Medical Clinics (MMC) in Philadelphia. MMC is a nonprofit primary health clinic that provides health access to all who seek it. This means that compassion, community, and need are at the forefront of their health care model. By changing the current healthcare paradigm to one of inclusion for the patient to feel empowered, requires an intentional effort toward ensuring that healthcare examines the full person. Our human story, multifactorial that it is, matters in disease management, spiritual contentment, connection, and community healing.
The core belief of MMC is that healthcare must be more than clinical testing, laboratory values, and medications. Within that triad of care, the patient must be recognized as the center of the healthcare team. In that story, the picture of the patients’ social determinants of health will be seen as essential to the patient’s overall care. MMC is created on the premise that neighborhoods of color be seen by health professionals of color, lowering the trust barrier to receiving equitable care. The question then becomes: are there enough health professionals who look like the neighbor they are treating? This question is particularly true of African American and Latino individuals in medicine. Therefore, in healthcare education, the lack of African Americans and Latino students in the professional practice pipeline must be increased.
Dr. Pitts also serves on the Board of Directors at NewCourtland. NewCourtland is committed to providing housing and other forms of care for seniors, addressing the needs of individuals as aging occurs when the healthcare system adequately can’t.
When looking to recognize a pillar in our community, it was simple. Dr. Neil Pitts has passion, drive, and determination. He is already out there making an impact. And it is our honor to highlight him during Black History Month.