Holy Name Medical Center Among Only 10 Hospitals Nationwide and Only Hospital in NJ Selected to Tackle Health Equity Gaps Among Different Patient Populations Newly formed hospital-community partnerships participate in pilot program offered by the American Hospital Association and the Institute for Diversity and Health Equity
Studies reveal that ZIP code—even more than genetic code—is a strong predictor of health, well-being and lifespan. In short, where you live may influence how long and how well you live. For many communities, a small distance can add up to large health equity gaps and disparities.
Hospitals and health systems are in a unique position to close this health divide. In response, the American Hospital Association (AHA) and its affiliate the Institute for Diversity and Health Equity, with generous support from the Aetna Foundation, are launching the Hospital Community Cooperative (HC²), a national program dedicated to closing gaps in health equity.
Holy Name Medical Center is one of just 10 hospital teams in the country and the only hospital in New Jersey to participate in the HC² program. With the AHA’s support, Holy Name will launch two projects targeting cancer disparities and access to care difficulties experienced in Asian American communities through screening, education, and linkage to care over the next 10-12 months.
The first project focuses on preventive screening for colorectal cancer among Asian Americans through the distribution of 300 FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Test) kits during community events, with the expectation of connecting those with positive results to a primary care provider or gastrointestinal specialist. The second project involves the study of high-risk stomach cancer among the Asian American population, with the goal of identifying 1,000 people eligible to complete a risk assessment questionnaire distributed at community outreach events. High risk individuals from the survey will be linked to a physician for follow-up care.
"We believe it is our responsibility to not only treat sick people, but to also keep people healthy through education and preventive care programs," says Kyung Hee Choi, vice president of Asian Health Services at Holy Name Medical Center. "Through the support and guidance of the AHA’s Hospital Community Cooperative, we know we can help advance health equity and address disparities in our communities, especially among the Asian American patient population. This aligns with our focus on improving cultural competency in healthcare for every patient."
Dr. Sung Kwon, a surgical oncologist and the lead physician of the project, notes, "Despite many identification and early detection methods available, cancer still stands as the leading cause of death amongst Asian Americans. Due to many barriers to care, the population that should be seeking cancer screening and care often goes unnoticed until it reaches a stage where treatments are more involved and less curative. Through this project, we want to further promote the preventive approach to cancer care for our Asian American communities."
Each team selected for the 2018–19 program is comprised of members from an AHA hospital and the community. The yearlong inaugural program recently kicked off in Chicago with an intensive three-day learning lab featuring nationally recognized population health and community care experts to provide customized technical assistance to the teams.
A National Advisory Committee consisting of multisector health improvement subject matter experts will contribute high-level guidance and decision-making support throughout the life of the program. The AHA and partners will complete an evaluation and report the findings in late 2019.
"The 2018–19 program is a pilot to help us strengthen our understanding of how to build a meaningful national community of practice for health care organizations that supports the cultivation of strong, sustainable partnerships through local health equity interventions," said Jay Bhatt, AHA senior vice president and chief medical officer. "HC² aims to help shape the narrative around diversity and health equity by generating a new class of AHA Equity of Care champions, providing models of success for other hospitals and health systems, and opening the door for bolder approaches that move resources, policies and practices upstream."