Healthcare Organizations Gather Virtually for Michigan Health Equity Summit

Kevin Ahmaad Jenkins, PhDNearly 137 safety and quality professionals participated in the virtual Michigan Health Equity Summit Nov. 3 hosted by the Michigan Public Health Institute, the Michigan State University Institute for Health Policy and the MHA Keystone Center, with funding provided by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. The event explored how hospitals can continue expanding their work in achieving health equity and eliminating disparities.

The summit featured Kevin Ahmaad Jenkins, PhD, who discussed the need to change culture and rebuild. He challenged members to ensure that the change they implement will lead to the sought-after results and engage the appropriate people. He shared the need to look at the process and not just the outcome to eliminate inequity, as pointing out inequities doesn’t make a change; acting to establish equity through access does.

Additionally, Brenda Jegede, manager, Office of Equity & Minority Health, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), discussed Michigan’s requirements for implicit bias training for healthcare workers. She also shared the MDHHS’ health equity strategies, including a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council; mandatory DEI training; institutionalizing the use of an equity impact assessment tool; and minority health capacity building grants to fund local organizations to address social determinants of health.

Spectrum Health Lakeland and Bronson Healthcare shared goals and information learned since focusing on health equity. Lynn Todman, vice president, health equity, Spectrum Health Lakeland, shared the hospital’s goal is to have at least 75% of race, ethnicity and language data captured during the registration process and to start collecting sexual orientation and gender identity data. Beth Washington, vice president, community health, equity and inclusion, Bronson Healthcare, shared that Bronson’s data reflected a significant increase in the number of area residents who speak the Arabic language and learned the community had recently become identified as a refugee resettlement site.

Jenkins closed out the summit reminding participants to lead with DEI in mind, encouraging them not to speak for someone without first speaking with that person, to avoid “guilt-centered dumps” and not to let the paralysis of inequity win.

A recording of the summit is available on the MHA Community site. Questions may be directed to the MHA Keystone Center.