In alignment with Ascension's Mission and our continued desire to improve health outcomes for all, Ascension has set a goal to eliminate preventable disparities in healthcare – variations in care due to factors such as poverty, race, ethnicity and language – by FY22.

At a recent Ascension Leadership Summit on Health Equity and Inclusion, Ministry Market Executives, Ascension Medical Group leaders, chief clinical officers, chief medical officers and community health leaders gathered to hear from internal and external speakers and to talk about the System's goal. The summit was sponsored by Patricia Maryland, Dr.PH, Executive Vice President, Ascension, and President and Chief Executive Officer, Ascension Healthcare, and David B. Pryor, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer, Ascension.

"Although health is restored in a doctor's office, it is created in a community and culture where social, economic and environmental factors as well as human behaviors can shape a community's health landscape and, ultimately, a community's health outcomes," Dr. Maryland said. "This is why Ascension's advanced Strategic Direction focuses on individuals and their communities so that we can attain the highest level of health for ALL people, especially those who are struggling."

Speakers included Tamarah Duperval-Brownlee, MD, MPH, MBA, FAAFP, Vice President, Care Excellence, Ascension Healthcare; Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA, 18th Surgeon General of the United States and a member of the Ascension Board of Directors; Amy Freeman, Vice President, Ascension Community Health; and leaders from Ascension Indiana, Ascension Chicago and Ascension Texas.

Participants also heard from two external speakers about the current state of addressing health equity.

Jennifer Mieres, MD, Senior Vice President, Center for Equity of Care, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Northwell Health, discussed strategies, programs and initiatives she helped put into place at Northwell Health that focus on the elimination of health and gender disparities.

Rebecca Onie, JD, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Health Leads, discussed the intersection of social determinants, population health and healthcare delivery. Through storytelling, she emphasized the need to equip individuals and communities with basic non-clinical resources – such as heat, food, electricity and housing – to lead more healthy lives.

Ascension has begun work in two specific areas: reducing disparities in the areas of heart failure care and colorectal cancer screening and prevention, especially among those living in poverty.

"This summit gave us the opportunity to collaborate on ways to truly make a difference in the lives of those we are privileged to serve," Dr. Duperval-Brownlee said. "Leaders who attended the summit came away with a renewed commitment to lasting change in the areas of healthcare disparities and inclusion."

Click here to view more photos from the event.


Photo: Tamarah Duperval-Brownlee, MD, MP, MBA, FAAFP, Vice President, Care Excellence, Ascension Healthcare, addresses leaders during the Ascension Leadership Summit on Health Equity and Inclusion.