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      HomeOur CompanyHealth equity champion spotlight: For Heather McLaughlin and London Wills, advocacy is personal
      Headshot photos of Heather McLaughlin and London Wills
      Our Company

      Health equity champion spotlight: For Heather McLaughlin and London Wills, advocacy is personal

      Through this series, Our Race to Health Equity is featuring people at the heart of Johnson & Johnson who are working to make a more equitable world possible.

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      Having personally experienced various inequities in healthcare, both Heather McLaughlin and London Wills have dedicated their careers to making sure that, one day, others won’t have to. Through their work with Johnson & Johnson’s My Health Can’t Wait, a community wellness initiative connecting people of color in the U.S. with vital health information and resources, these two leaders are helping tackle inequities, close health gaps and create better outcomes for communities that have historically been marginalized.

      In their roles, McLaughlin and Wills often focus on providing health education to individuals from communities of color. Through My Health Can’t Wait, their team partners with community organizations across the country to sponsor wellness events. There, people of color can be screened for a variety of health conditions and access the valuable information and resources they need to advocate for their health.

      Health Education and Advocacy for Communities of Color

      As Director of Global DEI, Johnson & Johnson MedTech, Heather McLaughlin understands the importance of diverse representation in healthcare. And on a personal level, as a woman, she says she has experienced discrimination firsthand when seeing a doctor.

      When McLaughlin was a new mom with a sick child, her male pediatrician refused to listen to her or look at the records she kept that tracked her son’s ear infections. It’s an experience faced by many who are navigating the medical system, particularly people of color, those who are LGBTQ+ and members of other groups who have been historically marginalized.

      Today, McLaughlin strives to help improve diversity in healthcare to ensure that patients, especially those from underserved communities, don’t have to experience discrimination when seeking care.

      “We have more work to do but we are headed in the right direction,” she said. “The field of healthcare needs more diversity. People typically like to go to a doctor who looks like them, who can relate to them, so we’re working to have an impact in the diversity of care.”

      McLaughlin says the My Health Can’t Wait wellness events are what she is most excited about working on in 2023.

      “I truly believe that we are changing lives — we are saving lives,” McLaughlin added. “Through My Health Can’t Wait, we are actually pivoting from talk to action. We are providing health resources, both through the website and through community outreach events. I’m primarily excited because of the impact we can have on the lives of patients we serve.”

      Creating a One-Stop Shop for Patients

      As National Policy and Advocacy Director for Health Equity at Johnson & Johnson, London Wills is also working to make a more equitable world possible by highlighting health disparities and meeting people of color where they are.

      Wills has experienced inequities firsthand as a Black man navigating the health system. Growing up, he experienced seizures that were misdiagnosed for years, which resulted in delayed treatment and, ultimately, impacted his health outcomes. In Wills’ 22 years at Johnson & Johnson, he has made addressing health inequities a priority, so that other patients won’t have to experience what he did.

      In helping to build My Health Can’t Wait’s new digital platform, Wills is working to increase awareness of the initiative with internal and external partners, particularly patient-advocacy organizations that can broadly advance the initiative’s message. He is most excited about the My Health Can’t Wait website, which offers resources to patients, all in one place.

      “My Health Can’t Wait is designed to create a call to action long after our community health equity activations are complete,” said Wills.

      Working Toward an Equitable Future

      One of the many things McLaughlin and Wills share is a deep sense of gratitude. Both are thankful for the opportunity to work on issues that are deeply personal to them and help build the future they want to see through My Health Can’t Wait and other Johnson & Johnson health equity initiatives.

      “My hope is simple,” McLaughlin said. “Equal access to healthcare and a world where your zip code doesn’t determine your life expectancy.”

      “By increasing education and resources for vulnerable populations and bringing together external stakeholders to collaborate and remove barriers to treatment, we can move the needle exponentially on closing racial disparities in healthcare,” Wills said. “We can create a world where quality care and outcomes are afforded to all, regardless of race or ethnicity.”

      Putting health first in a pandemic

      My Health Can’t Wait provides patients and healthcare providers with key resources to help them have meaningful conversations about how and when to prioritize needed care—both during the pandemic and beyond.
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