Advancing Health Equity: A Safety Net Hospital Perspective
Main Article Content
Equitable care has been recognized as one of the six core components of quality for over two decades, yet scant attention has been paid to understand and address healthcare disparities in the US. There is long-standing evidence of substantial health disparities and poor health outcomes along race, ethnicity and income levels in the US. The COVID-19 pandemic both exacerbated and exposed these inequities and catalyzed a national imperative to achieve equitable healthcare. The objective of this article is to provide a case study of a resource-challenged safety net hospital’s journey to advance health equity in Chicago. Humboldt Park Health (HPH) is a 200-bed independent community teaching hospital located on the West side of Chicago serving a multiracial, multilingual and socioeconomically disadvantaged population. Our journey started with the formation of a multidisciplinary health equity committee in 2021, reporting to the Board of Trustees, that was charged with formulating a strategy, developing an evidence-based framework and priorities for action, and implementing the action plan. We addressed four groups of stakeholders: our patients, our people, our organization, and our community. Our actions to advance equity have included (a) collection of patients’ demographic data such as race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, and gender identity; (b) assessment of social determinants of health (SDOH) along with connecting patients with social services; (c) the development of health disparities dashboards for various ambulatory preventive measures for stratification of quality data along race, ethnicity and language; (d) focus on LGBTQ+ community’s access to well-informed and sensitivity-trained behavioral health service providers, and (e) organization-wide training to embed the concepts of diversity, equity and inclusivity in the fabric of the organization. Other initiatives include the building of a community wellness center and a 100-unit affordable housing complex in the community. Digital health equity is an important domain that is being addressed by the launch of a patient portal to empower patients by providing them access to their information, and remote patient monitoring solutions. The next phase of our work involves evaluation studies to understand the impact of our interventions on health disparities and outcomes in our community.
The Medical Research Archives grants authors the right to publish and reproduce the unrevised contribution in whole or in part at any time and in any form for any scholarly non-commercial purpose with the condition that all publications of the contribution include a full citation to the journal as published by the Medical Research Archives.