Martin Luther King Jr. said that of all the forms of inequity, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane. Black History Month is the perfect time to reflect on Dr. King’s words – and to talk about what the AHA’s Institute for Diversity and Health Equity is doing to help you end health care disparities in your communities and advance diversity and inclusion in your ranks.

Diversity is not just a project or campaign. It has to be woven into the cultural fabric of each and every health care organization if we are to realize Dr. King’s dream of a society where a person’s fate in life is not predetermined by the color of their skin.

We recently changed the name of the Institute – which we are privileged to be current and immediate past chair of – to more accurately depict our mission now that we have realigned ourselves as a core membership resource within the AHA. This direct access to the Institute’s expertise, education and resources will spur wider adoption of proven methods that expand health care leadership opportunities for ethnic minorities; advance diversity, inclusion and health equity; and empower all health organizations to ensure equitable care for all the people you serve.

Of course, the Institute will continue to focus on our three priority areas as we build on our efforts to meet your needs:

  • Expertise: The Institute’s leaders, board members, as well as diversity and health equity practitioners from its American Leadership Council on Diversity in Health Care and the field will provide expertise and strategies to support individuals and organizations.
  • Education: The Institute will position itself as the national repository to secure and disseminate tools, resources, case examples, technical assistance and programs that support the health care field.
  • Agent of Change: The Institute will foster dialogue and collaboration as it strengthens its relationships with a cross-sector of stakeholders and community partners to better lead efforts that advance diversity, inclusion and health equity.

Beyond unveiling our new name and alignment, 2018 brings many exciting opportunities to engage with the Institute. We continue to develop case studies of organizations that are leaders in our #123forEquity pledge as well as updates on efforts related to board diversity and community health workers as part of our alliance with the National Urban League. And throughout the year, we’ll continue sharing with the field new resources and educational opportunities as we seek to accelerate our efforts in these critical areas./p>

We are not done – not by a long shot. Achieving care equity and greater diversity is a crucial part of solving America’s current – and future – health care challenges. Equitable care for all patients is both the right thing to do and central to hospitals’ ongoing quality improvement work and part of a business imperative moving forward.

So please accelerate your organization’s diversity work today. Visit us online to take the Equity of Care pledge or update us on your ongoing efforts, learn more about our upcoming National Leadership and Education Conference, and find ways to improve care for the individuals and communities you serve.

Nicholas Tejeda is CEO The Hospitals of Providence – Transmountain Campus and Board Chair, the Institute for Diversity and Health Equity

Ninfa M. Saunders is President and CEO Navicent Health and Immediate Past Chair, the Institute for Diversity and Health Equity

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