CHA joins partners in calling for equal access to health care for all

August 15, 2011

CHA has partnered with four national organizations in a "call to action" aimed at eliminating health care disparities.

Joining the American Hospital Association, American College of Healthcare Executives, Association of American Medical Colleges and National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, CHA recently launched the Equity of Care initiative, which includes three strategies:

  • Increasing the collection and use of race, ethnicity and language preference data from each patient on admission.
  • Increasing cultural competency training for all personnel who come in contact with patients.
  • Increasing diversity in governance and leadership in order to raise awareness of the need for equal access to health care, as well as to build organizational capacity to address the issue.

CHA President and Chief Executive Officer Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, explained that the initiative is an opportunity to demonstrate the real commitment that U.S. hospitals have to giving all people the care they need, irrespective of racial or ethnic background. She said it speaks "to the needs of individuals, but also the needs of our nation, and it is wonderful to see hospitals working together to make this happen."

Sr. Carol emphasized this call to action is not a new one for Catholic health care. Many of the nation's Catholic health ministries were founded to eliminate disparities of care either in a region, with an ethnic group such as new immigrants or access barriers related to poverty.

Catholic social teaching on justice and charity make it clear that disparities of care that hinder people from getting needed care are a failure in following the Gospel, Sr. Carol said. "Any of the major encyclicals of the popes and the social justice teaching of our bishops have been very clear that we fail in justice and charity when we allow systems of care that deliver substandard care to people of certain races or ethnic backgrounds," Sr. Carol said.

Dr. Robert Kuramoto, a member of the CHA Board of Trustees, and chair of the CHA board's committee on diversity and health disparities, represents CHA on the committee steering the Equity of Care initiative.

Michael Rodgers, CHA senior vice president for advocacy and public policy, said the issue of equity of care is important to the Catholic health care ministry not only because of the mission imperative, but also because of the ministry's support for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

He said the act has numerous references to reducing and/or eliminating disparities, including:

  • Expansion of initiatives to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the health care professions and strengthen cultural competency training for all health care providers.
  • Improvement of data collection among minority and underserved populations to reduce health disparities.

He noted that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched two strategic plans aimed at reducing health disparities.

Additional information and resources about the Equity of Care initiative, promoting diversity and reducing health disparities is available at the Equity of Care website and on the CHA website. The CHA site includes a list of programs and initiatives CHA-member organizations have implemented that are replicable. To share a program idea with the ministry, submit it to CHA.


Copyright © 2011 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2011 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.