Diversity Means More: AROC subcommittee tackles health disparities and inequities in our community

August 23, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership, ,

The Anti-Racism Oversight Committee Community Work subcommittee has been working diligently to understand and address overall health inequity and access at Michigan Medicine and its surrounding communities. The subcommittee’s action items focus on equitable access, healthy communities, strong infrastructure in systems and processes, and cultural humility and understanding to increase sustainable community wellness, engagement, and partnerships with Michigan Medicine.

Tracking our reach

The Community Work subcommittee has been collaborating with Community Health Services and other departments across Michigan Medicine to survey the breadth and depth of our community engagement and outreach activities. As a launching point, the subcommittee utilized the FY19 Michigan Medicine Community Benefit data to begin the Community Outreach and Activities Comprehensive list. This list was conceived to better understand the full range of initiatives that are ongoing with respect to health equity and community engagement, with a two-fold goal of determining how Michigan Medicine is serving the community and utilizing this information to increase meaningful and visible community outreach and engagement. 

Additionally, the subcommittee analyzed potential impact of activities by assessing the focus of each activity on social determinants of health (where we live, eat and play), social needs (taking care of an immediate tangible need), health equity, community impact and the identified Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) priorities. 

*For a copy of the current Community Health Needs Assessment go to: https://www.uofmhealth.org/community-health-needs-assessment

Operationalizing health equity

In March 2021, the Community Work subcommittee launched a pilot initiative with the Michigan Medicine Lung Transplant Team (LTT) to assess equity in transplant access, practice, and care — particularly for African American patients who disproportionately experience higher transplant-related and chronic disease burden.

This pilot is part of a broader institutional effort to operationalize health equity in ways that optimize positive patient and community health outcomes. 

This work comes at a critical and opportune moment within a double pandemic environment — the first is the public health COVID-19 crisis which highlights persistent racial injustices — and the second pandemic is an intensified social justice movement in response to persistent racial oppression and injustice. Both have proven to have increasingly negative impacts on African American communities.    

The pilot assessment sought to identify modifiable levers for ensuring equitable access for African American lung transplant patients, and to provide recommendations for improving equitable access by operationalizing anti-racism health care best practices. 

The subcommittee will present detailed findings and recommendations to the LTT this September. The resulting report, data collection tools and valuable feedback from the lung transplant pilot team will also serve to develop a Health Equity Playbook — intended to be repurposed and rolled out with other Michigan Medicine service lines in FY2022 and beyond.

Joining a network 

The subcommittee is excited to announce that Michigan Medicine has joined the Healthcare Anchor Network to collaborate with other health systems to build inclusive and sustainable local economies. The Healthcare Anchor Network aims to define the health care leadership standard and promote industry collaboration for proactively addressing economic and racial inequities in community conditions that create poor health.

Michigan Medicine is one of 60 health care systems represented in the Healthcare Anchor Network and like other members, our focus will be to develop three anchor pillar strategies — inclusive local hiring, local sourcing and place-base investing to address “root causes: economic and racial inequities that create barriers to health and thriving for people and communities.”

Contributing to local community resilience

The subcommittee has also started robust planning activities to address ways Michigan Medicine can revitalize the Ypsilanti Health Center (YHC) so that the population living in the Ypsilanti market which includes zip codes 48197 and 48198, and Belleville’s 48111, have equitable access to care and improved health outcomes. The vision for a revitalized YHC is to “become a premier health care provider in the Ypsilanti community delivering equitable, interdisciplinary care for the whole patient, reducing health disparities, improving health justice, and utilizing resources efficiently, while furthering Michigan Medicine’s research and education missions.”

The work to date has included conducting data and market assessments to obtain a baseline, identify the needs of the community through both data analysis and stakeholder engagement, as well as identifying current gaps in service delivery.

Short term recommendations developed from the subcommittee include improving visibility and access, developing a closed loop system for positive social determinants of health screens, and improving access to virtual care options for patients. Longer term plans include developing strategies to integrate radiology services and other high utilized ancillary services, and strategies to address long term infrastructure needs of the Ypsilanti Health Center including facility review/replacement.

To stay up to date with what the Community Work subcommittee is doing please click here