Reflections: Over a Decade in the Shared Fight for Health Equity 

by Syvonne Carter, CEO

26Health’s biggest accomplishment has been our very existence.  

Before our organization was born, the healthcare needs of communities being ‘dismissed’ in Orlando and Central Florida were not being met and faced continuous barriers in receiving quality care. The scale of health inequality was unacceptable, and we worked hard for 12 years straight to change mindsets, create safe spaces and provide the resources needed that our community could access to receive the care they need, regardless of their ability to pay. 

It’s hard to fathom that here we are, over 10 years later, still fighting for communities to receive the care they deserve. From primary care and mental health care, to helping couples start their journey in building a family through adoption; our work to remove stigmas has not been absent of heavy obstacles. So far, the rewards of this hard work have been incredible. It’s seen in the faces of the patients, the smiles of newly formed families, the quiet sigh of relief by those who were once turned away from receiving medical treatment because of who they are, how they identify or their ethnic/racial background.  Seeing the results of these daily lifelines is our reason for existing. 

Nevertheless, the obstacles keep coming, and we remain loyal to our commitment to serve our community as we enter this new political era. The numbers of people determined to charter a better world for our communities grow, reignited and reinspired with every boundary that is put in our way. 

With our heritage and history in mind, 26Health is channeling this new wave of determination to broaden our care to serve all communities across Central Florida. Now is the time to lean in and take action for any community that continues to face barriers to care. 

We work with amazing partners to tell the story of our patients, and to give visibility to those who are being sidelined each day with the passage of new legislation. Our clinicians, service providers, counselors and thought leaders are coming together with more partners to raise awareness and funding towards an elusive but ACHIEVEABLE goal—establishing health equity in Florida. 

In being part of this tremendous team, I have seen first-hand the needs of those who otherwise would be marginalized experience happiness and hope when treatments and resources are provided.

Throughout my career, especially during moments of transformation, I remember that change is not driven through a creed of ‘If only…”. It is driven through a mantra of “It’s possible…”.  

As we head towards PRIDE and our 12th anniversary, it’s important to take a look at the progress that has been made. This keeps us grounded in our collective effort to make sure people support the lifesaving work of providers and partners.  Why? Because care for our communities is a necessity. At its core, it is humanitarian work and the very idea of human welfare itself is a national concern.  

PRIDE was founded in protest, and we will be channeling the frustration and pain that comes from navigating through these obstacles into creating solutions to benefit others. It is with this renewed energy we are focused on creating multiple paths forward for health equity in Florida. 

26Health is here to uplift and support the communities we serve and meet challenges head on together.