Diversity and Disparities Overview

The Catholic Health Association and the Catholic health care ministry are committed to the importance of diversity — both in the workforce and in meeting the needs of diverse patients.


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Video Conversation: Lloyd H. Dean and Caretha Coleman on Social Justice and Health Disparities



Lent Reflection on Health Care and Racial Justice

A toddler asks her father to play peek-a-boo, again.
A coach yells for the team to run the play, again.
A writer scraps his draft and begins, again.
A patient starts a round of chemotherapy, again.

Turn again. Try again. Begin again. Do it again. "Again" is the refrain of Lent. We are called to come back once more to God. We start our journey anew and recommit to our spiritual practices. But why? And to what end? Are we coming back with the joy of the toddler, the discipline of the athlete, the humility of the writer or the tenacity of the patient?

This Lent we cannot turn a blind eye to the structural reinforcements of racism in our country or the systemic impact of racism on the health of our black and brown sisters and brothers. We need to look again at how we value black, indigenous and people of color across our systems.

In health care, especially Catholic health care, this means confronting the facts. Facts like, black infant mortality is nearly double that of white infant mortality and black maternal mortality is three times that of their white counterparts. Facts like, Latinos having a 66% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes and, once diagnosed, exhibiting worse outcomes than non-Hispanic whites. Facts, like American Indians and Alaska Natives born today have a life expectancy that is 5.5 years less than the U.S. all races population.

Confronting those facts forces us to consider our relationship and face the reality that our black and brown brothers and sisters do not trust the health care system that again and again fails them. Black patients in the U.S. are less likely to receive proper care for diabetes, kidney disease and cancers even though they have higher rates of most diseases.

Scripture speaks to us of the beauty of repentance and beginning again. "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus." Acts 3:19-20

Our repentance this season must consider what needs to be dismantled and built again. Where does our work for justice, equity and inclusion need to start again? How do we lift up the practices, books, leaders and actions that will guide us on our antiracist journey? How do we try again to rend our hearts, pulling up the roots of racism where they grow?

May our walk this Lent be about blotting out the sin of racism — together and entirely — that we may all fully experience the presence of God in the light of Christ.


© The Catholic Health Association of the United States

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A new CDC report on maternal mortality found significant racial disparities, with African-American and American Indian/Alaska Native women 3 times as likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause as white women. To learn more about maternal mortality read the report and visit the CDC’s Vital Statistics webpage.

CMS Office of Minority Health Report
(April 25, 2017) In recognition of National Minority Health Month, the CMS Office of Minority Health has released a data highlight that – for the first time ever – examines Marketplace enrollment activity by racial and ethnic subgroup, as well as spoken and written language preference. 

Structural Racism and Health
A Collection of resources from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Visit the website

What’s Killing Our Children? Child and Infant Mortality among American Indians and Alaska Natives
By Teshia G. Arambula Solomon, Felina M. Cordova, and Francisco Garcia
The very vulnerable demographic group of American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) youth face unique and important challenges. The authors of a new paper from the National Academy of Medicine use the lens of infant and childhood mortality as a tool to recognize opportunities for action that could have an impact on this perhaps most critical indicator of the health of this population. The authors extract some lessons from the lived experiences of too many reservation and urban Indian communities and turn these tragic stories into useful tools for broader policy and health system change.
Read the article

Chartbook on Health Care for Blacks – National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released a Chartbook on Health Care for Blacks, derived from the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report, which summarizes trends in health care disparities by race related to access, Heckler Report priorities, and National Quality Strategy priorities. Key findings include increases in suicide and mental health disparities, improvements in access to care since the Affordable Care Act, and poorer quality of care related to person-centeredness and care coordination.
Download the free report and slide deck
Guide to Preventing Readmissions Among Racially & Ethnically Diverse Medicare Beneficiaries
As part of the CMS Equity Plan for Improving Quality in Medicare, CMS OMH, in collaboration with the Disparities Solutions Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and NORC at the University of Chicago, produced a Guide to Preventing Readmissions among Racially and Ethnically Diverse Medicare Beneficiaries. This Guide is designed to equip hospital leaders, as well as QIN-QIOs and HENs, with guidance for addressing avoidable readmissions in this population. The Guide provides a set of action-oriented recommendations, as well as case examples of initiatives that may be applied to reduce readmissions in diverse populations.
Download the Guide

A Practitioner's Guide for Advancing Health Equity: Community Strategies for Preventing Chronic Disease
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new Health Guide resource. The opening section discusses practices and principles for incorporating health equity goals into organizations’ activities. While the focus of the document is public health and community organizations, it provides great ideas and examples that are useful across settings.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Access to and Utilization of Care among Insured Adults
The Kaiser Family Foundation has a new issue brief out looking at the extent to which people of color may continue to experience disparities in access to and utilization of care even after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation. The brief examines differences in access to and utilization of care for Black and Hispanic adults compared to white adults among those who are uninsured, enrolled in Medicaid, and privately insured, using data from the 2014 Kaiser Survey of Low-Income Americans.

Other Articles

Equity of Care - Culturally Competent Care
Sr. Carol Keehan, DC
Reprinted with permission of Health Administration Press from Journal of Healthcare Management, vol. 58, no. 4, pp. 250-252. Copyright 2013.

Lack of Diversity in Medical Research Is Bad for Your Health (National Journal)
Low participation of minority populations in clinical trials can lead to development of medicines that are dangerous for the people using them.