She initially was met with silence when she asked her audience: “Where do you think we have to start?”

During the ensuing discussion, there seemed to be a consensus that sending people – especially white, middle-class people – into poor minority neighborhoods to tell residents to stop smoking, eat more fruits and vegetables and get more exercise is not going to end the inequity.

It was mentioned that other countries invest in the wellness of their citizens, just as some U.S. companies do for their own employees.

Some in the audience echoed Coyle’s comment that local businesses need to be brought into the conversation, with one person suggesting she make a presentation to the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.

One man said a Bethlehem neighbor recently died of a stroke because the person was only taking stroke medicine when he could afford to buy it. He said other elderly people in his neighborhood have lost their health insurance.

There was no discussion about whether the controversial federal laws known as Obamacare might help alleviate health care inequality. Nor was universal health care raised. After the program Coyle said universal health care would contribute to the solution, but is not the only answer.

Thursday’s program was part of a Town Hall Lecture Series presented by the city and Lehigh University’s South Side Initiative. Goal of that initiative is to bring together university faculty, students and staff with Bethlehem residents “to share knowledge, foster democracy and improve the quality of life in the city.”

Most people attending the program already knew each other and Coyle.
She was introduced by Seth Moglen, a Lehigh University English teacher and director of South Side Initiative.