By Gene Woods

It was two years ago that we launched the #123forEquity Pledge Campaign. And I couldn't be more appreciative of our field’s enthusiastic response, as 50 state hospital associations and nearly 1,500 hospitals have taken the pledge so far. This is a sign of our renewed commitment as leaders, in this esteemed profession, to eliminate disparities so that everyone, of every background, has access to the care they need and can reach their highest potential for health.

As continued evidence of our collective commitment, I am excited about the AHA’s partnership with the National Urban League, announced earlier this year. The focus of that partnership is to connect hospital and health system CEOs with local Urban League leaders interested in opportunities to serve on governing boards at hospitals and health systems, develop resources for the field and share best practices on community health worker programs, and promote shared policy solutions to persistent challenges that affect the health of vulnerable communities.

To launch our work, last week, we were proud to host a joint AHA-NUL educational event to elevate efforts to bring greater diversity into the hospital boardroom. Specifically, we brought together NUL leaders and hospital leaders from across the country to share their thoughts on health care governance and the issues facing hospitals and their boards. I addressed the group on what I think is the most imperative task of hospital trustees: focusing on communities as they lead their institutions through a period of rapid, disruptive and transformational change.

And we’re just getting started. This week, we will host a consortium highlighting the importance of community health workers in connecting patients to needed health care services. More events are being planned and I hope you will join us.

We all know the quote by Martin Luther King, Jr: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman.” Thank you for your efforts to continue to build a more equitable and just system. Like you, I envision a future where no one in this country has their life cut short due to inequities of care. One thing for sure, it will take all of us, working together, to make that vision a reality.

Gene Woods is the Chairman of the AHA Board of Trustees. 

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