Chatham Hospital in Siler City is one of just three nationwide to be recognized by the American Hospital Association for its health equity efforts when named as an honoree for the 2020 Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care (EOC) Award.
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SILER CITY — Chatham Hospital in Siler City is one of just three nationwide to be recognized by the American Hospital Association for its health equity efforts, named last Wednesday as an honoree for the 2020 Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care (EOC) Award.
The award — renamed for Carolyn Boone Lewis last year to honor the first Black chairperson of the AHA board — is an annual recognition of efforts among hospitals and health care systems to advance equity of care to all patients, with the goal of achieving health equity. Cone Health of Greensboro was named as the recipient of the award, with the Henry Ford Health System of Detroit joining Chatham Hospital as an honoree.
“This award spotlights the hospitals and health systems that are taking the initiative to learn about the populations, patients and communities they serve, including those who have not traditionally interacted with the health care system,” AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said in release last Wednesday. “Cone Health and this year’s honorees represent vastly different communities in terms of size and demographics, but they have all been creative and proactive in using data to connect with hard-to-reach patients and put a permanent dent in chronic inequities.”
Chatham Hospital, part of the UNC Health System, is a 25-bed critical access hospital that provides surgical, medical, pediatric and emergency health services. According to its website, the hospital’s 10-bed emergency department provides full-service 24/7 to more than 1,200 people each month.
Chatham Hospital President Jeff Strickler said the hospital was thrilled to get this level of national recognition, after applying in January.
“What it means to the hospital, is to get credit for some of the good work that we’re doing, and particularly in an area that’s often underrecognized and that’s the role of diversity and equity inclusion,” Strickler said. “And not just in the hospital, which is certainly a focus of this award, but I think one of the key aspects of it and which made our application to the award much more powerful is our work with community partners and how we can impact that larger community aspect around the social determinants of health and the various health disparities in our community.”
The AHA also recognized the hospital’s community partnerships in its release naming this year’s recipient and honorees.
“Chatham Hospital shows that committed hospitals can lead the way in health equity regardless of their size,” the AHA said in its award announcement. “Employees receive training in communication, cultural competency and unconscious bias. In addition, REaL (race, ethnicity and language preference) data and information on gender preference, age, payer source and support-at-home helps pinpoint disparities and guide the care of non-native English speakers.”
The announcement also highlighted the hospital’s sponsorship of mentoring programs with community leaders to help students learn medical technology and enhance language skills, as well as its partnership with county and nonprofit service providers to offer a free food pantry and curb misuse of prescribed opioids by working with local law enforcement.
The Hospital has used its REaL data, Strickler said, to examine the functionality of its COVID-19 efforts and maternity programs, both of which he said reflect disproportionate disparities for Chatham’s Latinx community.
“This is not intended to in any way to infringe upon an individual’s privacy — it’s not something that will be reflected against them on an individual level,” he said of the hospital’s data collection efforts. “This enables us to really pivot as an organization and see if there are areas and groups that we perhaps not reached out to as we should.”
Strickler is hopeful that the award will “re-energize” the hospital in its equity efforts, particularly after multiple months of being overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases and protocol within the hospital. The pandemic might have temporarily put some elective surgeries and clinical programs on pause, but the disparities seen in which groups are most impacted by the virus — in Chatham and around the country — have been a reminder to Strickler of how crucial an equity lens is to providing care.
“It just again highlights that from a clinical perspective, this effort is important and it is an extension of how to care for others,” Strickler said.
Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at email@example.com.
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