Weekly Messages From MHA

Weekly Message From MHA

A Call to Action

October 02, 2015 By: Carmela Coyle

Maryland is changing. And fast.

The state is on track to be 50 percent minority by 2019. And by 2040, it’s estimated that minorities will outnumber non-Hispanic whites by about 1 million people. Already, Maryland is the seventh most diverse state in the nation.

But our rich diversity is not reflected in the board rooms and C-suites of Maryland’s hospitals. Nor is it reflected in the health outcomes of the people we care for.

African-Americans in Maryland, for example, have a lower life expectancy than whites, and their infant mortality rate is nearly three times greater than that of whites. While our mission of course doesn’t change based on the race or ethnicity of our patients, there’s something amiss here.

There’s also something we can do about it. Earlier this month, MHA committed to the National Call to Action to Eliminate Health Care Disparities Equity of Care Campaign, launched by five national health care associations (American College of Healthcare Executives, American Hospital Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, America’s Essential Hospitals and Catholic Health Association of the United States).

I would like to see every hospital in Maryland participate. Click here to sign your pledge.

The campaign’s goals are in concert with ongoing efforts to eliminate health disparities, reflect our communities and achieve the Triple Aim. And all this must be done under global budgets — that means effective management of the health of populations, a task that requires understanding each community’s unique makeup and needs.

Already a handful of Maryland’s hospitals have joined. By participating, your organization would agree to:

  • Choose a quality measure to stratify by race, ethnicity and language preference (to jumpstart this effort, MHA will soon send to each hospital a handful of quality measures that we have already stratified by race, ethnicity and language)
  • Determine whether a health care disparity exists, and if so, implement a plan to address the gap
  • Provide cultural competency training for all staff or finalize a plan to ensure staff receives cultural competency training
  • Have a dialogue with the hospital board and leadership team on how the organization reflects the community it serves, and what actions can be taken to address any gaps if the board and leadership do not reflect the community 

Not only do these commitments support work we’re already doing, but they also demonstrate to the public and elected leaders that hospitals take this issue seriously. To help, MHA has developed a new web resource to connect you with the information and tools you need to make this campaign a success.

It seems like every other day, hospitals are asked to track something new, or direct resources to another initiative, but this one’s different — it can help us use existing information to get to the very heart of our service to those who need healing and those who provide it. Put simply, this is the right thing to do for the diverse communities we serve.