The racial justice movement in the Summer of 2020 marked a monumental shift in how organizations understood, approached, and addressed health equity. As society grappled with the realities of a long-standing history of racism, discrimination, and brutality against Black Americans, organizations and individuals reevaluated their own role in its perpetuation, published statements of support for calls for reform, and sought answers to how they could play a role in remedying racial disparities. The Kentuckiana Health Collaborative (KHC) was one of these organizations. Conversations with community partners and KHC members during this time affirmed the need for healthcare organizations to take a particularly prominent role in this movement. Eliminating racism in healthcare and addressing social risks were within their direct impact.
To accelerate this work, the Kentuckiana Health Collaborative partnered with Have a Heart Clinic and The Kentucky Nurses Association to launch the Healthcare Equity Advisory Committee (HEAC), a group of health equity advocates representing a variety of healthcare stakeholder perspectives. Through a series of collaborative discussions, the Committee developed eight principles aimed at advancing healthcare equity and eliminating racism from healthcare. The principles were not intended to be a complete picture of the work that needs to be done by healthcare organizations to eliminate racism and health disparities, but rather to bring organizations together around shared principles and identify organizations who are committed to advancing healthcare equity for future collaborative opportunities. The HEAC called upon healthcare organizations to sign the associated Letter of Support for the principles to signify their commitment. Since that time, 20 organizations have signed.
On February 28, 2022, the Principles of Advancing Healthcare Equity were publicly released. On February 28, 2023, exactly one year later, the HEAC reconvened with new purpose – to learn and collaborate with the organizations who have signed the Letter of Support for the Principles. This roundtable discussion was the first opportunity for the HEAC to engage with Letter of Support signees. The conversation focused on allowing signees to share their work on health equity and how they have implemented the Principles to date as well as explore how signees and the HEAC could support and hold one another accountable for continued progress.
Letter of Support signees shared several innovative approaches to addressing health equity within their organizations. They represented a variety of stakeholder types including health plans, non-profit organizations, technology companies, and hospital systems. Strategies for advancing healthcare equity reflected the intersection of the Principles of Advancing Healthcare Equity and focused on components such as collection and utilization of data, anti-racism and implicit bias training, diversity, equity, and inclusion, community partners, programs addressing social needs, and addressing high-impact health disparities.
During the discussion, real-time connections were made between the signees and HEAC members to support each other’s work. These connections represented the broader intent of these roundtable discussions – to foster community and organizational connections and build a coalition of healthcare organizations to share, innovate, and connect on their healthcare equity work. Conversations such as this will not wholly eliminate health disparities unless they are coupled with intentional action and continued learning by organizations as well as the individuals within them.
To be part of this growing coalition and be included in future roundtable discussions, the KHC and HEAC invite organizations to sign the Letter of Support for the Principles of Advancing Healthcare Equity. Signing the letter of support confirms the organization’s commitment to hold themselves accountable to acknowledge and address their role in perpetuating and remedying health disparities within the Louisville community.
Read the Principles of Advancing Healthcare Equity in Greater Louisville here. The letter of support can be signed and submitted through an online form or by email. For inquires related to the Healthcare Equity Advisory Committee or the Principles of Advancing Healthcare Equity in Greater Louisville, contact Natalie Middaugh, Director, Programs and Health Strategies at the Kentuckiana Health Collaborative at firstname.lastname@example.org.