AHA recognizes Cone Health with 2020 Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care Award

AHA recognizes Cone Health with 2020 Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care Award

Two Health Systems Recognized as Honorees

WASHINGTON (August 26, 2020) – The American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Institute for Diversity and Health Equity today announced that Cone Health, Greensboro, N.C., will receive the 2020 Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care (EOC) Award. The award recognizes hospitals and health systems for their efforts to reduce health care inequities and advance diversity and inclusion. In addition, Chatham Hospital, Siler City, N.C.; and Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, Mich., will be recognized as honorees.

The Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care Award is an annual recognition of outstanding efforts among hospitals and health care systems to advance equity of care to all patients, and to spread lessons learned and progress toward achieving health equity. The award was renamed the Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care Award in 2019 in honor of the first African-American and first hospital trustee to chair the AHA Board. Carolyn Boone Lewis was trustee of a safety net hospital and a tireless advocate for equity in health care.

“This award spotlights the hospitals and health systems that are taking the initiative to learn about the populations, patients and communities they serve, including those who have not traditionally interacted with the health care system,” said AHA President and CEO, Rick Pollack. “Cone Health and this year’s honorees represent vastly different communities in terms of size and demographics, but they have all been creative and proactive in using data to connect with hard-to-reach patients and put a permanent dent in chronic inequities.”

Cone Health, the 2020 Carolyn Boone Lewis EOC Award winner, is recognized for integrating health equity practices into physician training and board governance. All physicians receive training in the social and racial influences in health care. Cone Health collects race, ethnicity and language preference (or REaL) data using patient-centered interview techniques. This includes electronic medical records and a banner tool to capture patient language.

Specifically, Cone Health’s leaders applied REaL data to postpartum hypertension readmission and found Black women experienced readmission rates four times greater than white women. Cone Health significantly reduced readmissions through a pilot program that applied anti-racism principles of transparency and accountability. Interventions included unconscious bias training, changing nursing techniques and adopting new clinical protocols.

Cone Health also integrated screening for social determinants of health into its electronic platform and made a transportation option available to ensure patients do not miss clinical appointments. These and many other initiatives reflect an “all-in” approach to population health.

Highlights of the Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care Award Honorees

Henry Ford Health System – Detroit, Mich.
Recognized as an Equity of Care winner in 2015 and honoree in 2014, Henry Ford Health System has demonstrated an enduring commitment to health equity, cultural competency and confronting unconscious bias. Racial, ethnicity and language preference information is now collected for more than 90% of patients, a result of the “We Ask Because We Care” campaign. The data is used to reduce disparities and improve outcomes in maternal and infant health, diabetes management and prevention and other areas.

The importance of diversity is reflected at the top of the organization. Senior leadership is currently 50% female and 43% non-white. As a result of its sustained efforts, Henry Ford Health System shows no significant difference between English proficient patient populations and limited English proficient populations in mortality, readmission or length of stay.

Chatham Hospital – Siler City, N.C.
Chatham Hospital shows that committed hospitals can lead the way in health equity regardless of their size. Chatham is a critical access hospital and a member of the University of North Carolina Health System. Employees receive training in communication, cultural competency and unconscious bias. In addition, REaL data and information on gender preference, age, payor source and support-at-home helps pinpoint disparities and guide the care of non-native English speakers.

Chatham also sponsors mentoring programs in partnership with community leaders. One program recruits students to learn medical terminology and enhance language skills, with the aim of securing future applicants to provide interpreter services. Chatham partners with county and nonprofit service providers, offers a free food pantry and works with local law enforcement to curb misuse of prescribed opioids and implement alternatives to pain management.


Contact:        Sean Barry, sbarry@aha.org
                      Marie Johnson, mjohnson@aha.org