More than 50 health care leaders discussed strategies to improve health equity and eliminate health care disparities at an AHA-Joint Commission summit Sept. 16 in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.  

“Pinpointing why disparities in care exist and eliminating them must be a priority in every health care setting,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “To create healthy communities, we must embrace the diversity of the individuals we serve, as well as break down the hospital’s traditional four walls to provide care in a more convenient way where patients live and work. We are pleased to partner with The Joint Commission to improve equity of care for everyone and promote greater diversity across the health care field.” 

Institute for Diversity in Health Management (IFD) President and CEO Tomás León and Ronald Wyatt, M.D., patient safety officer and medical director in The Joint Commission’s Division of Healthcare Improvement, co-facilitated the summit.  

Leaders from Ascension Health, Henry Ford Health System, Kaiser Permanente, Navicent Health and other organizations shared examples of how their organizations are working to advance diversity and improve health equity.  

Ninfa Saunders, CEO of Navicent Health in Macon, Ga., and IFD chair, spoke about ways the health system is diversifying its leadership and governance, as well as using race, ethnicity and language preference data to identify and address gaps in care.  

Henry Ford Health System’s Senior Vice President of Community Health & Equity Kimberlydawn Wisdom, M.D., discussed the Detroit-based organization’s Healthcare Equity Scholars Program, as well as many community partnerships aimed at tackling health care disparities. And she spoke about the importance of having leadership support from her organization “to integrate equity as a key measurable aspect of clinical quality.” 

Wisdom, who also serves as Henry Ford Health System’s chief wellness and diversity officer and a member of the AHA’s Equity of Care Committee, and Saunders praised the AHA’s #123forEquity Pledge to Act Campaign for making this work a priority for the field.  

The AHA launched the #123forEquity campaign last year to accelerate progress on eliminating health care disparities. More than 1,200 organizations have signed the pledge.  

Visit www.equityofcare.org for more on the campaign and resources on health equity.