Ansel T. Johnson, O.D., CEO and Founder of Healthy Living With A Vision Foundation
Tell us about your organization and the work you do there.
Healthy Living with a Vision is dedicated to eliminating healthcare disparities in communities of color. As founder and CEO, I continually seek projects and collaborators that can have a lasting effect to accomplish this mission in various areas of healthcare from supplyline for doctors of color to community education and awareness of various areas of health.
What communities and populations does your organization serve?
We serve African American and Latinx populations in Chicago and the South Suburbs.
Why did you decide to join the Illinois Kidney Care Alliance?
We joined IKCA because kidney disease is a topic that is not talked about much in the African American community, but has a severe impact. I also wanted to educate myself so our organization can find ways to support those with the disease. Partnering with other members of the alliance has proven to be extremely beneficial to our work and we look forward to the continued collaboration.
What do you hope the alliance accomplishes?
We hope IKCA can expand its network of awareness partners to other forms of healthcare providers (i.e. eye doctors, dentists and podiatrists). Kidney disease and diabetes patients often have other medical conditions and there is still so much to learn and advocate for within this topic.
What policy changes do those living with kidney disease need now?
Kidney disease patients need fast tracking and funding for newer technologies and more research in the field.
What can lawmakers do to help those with kidney disease?
We believe that policymakers should help find ways to provide funding for advertising with Black and Latinx media to increase community awareness about kidney disease and its symptoms.
What is something most people don’t know about dialysis/kidney disease?
Most kidney disease can be prevented with early detection and attention to lab work. In my practice, as an optometrist, I see signs of potential high blood pressure and diabetes all the time. Ensuring that your eyes are healthy go hand in hand with kidney function.
If you can share one story about the work you and your organization do, what would it be?
We had a powerful national virtual town hall meeting during Kidney Awareness Month that we hope to do on a regular basis. I personally would like to develop a curriculum for eye care providers to educate their patients on kidney disease. We see patients all the time that are on dialysis and would love to be able to help them.
Any additional information you would like to share about your organization?
We would love to provide a platform for other organizations to offer community and staff education for kidney health and education. We have a great media team and meeting platform to expand the outreach.