Many hospitals and health systems are leveraging their efforts to address racial inequity in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines as a springboard to address broader health care disparities, Ross Johnson reports for Modern Healthcare. Here's how three organizations—Kaiser Permanente, Sinai Chicago, and Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center—are establishing long-term community relationships.
Hospitals take 'leading role' to address vaccine disparities
According to Modern Healthcare, CDC data indicates that as of March 25, 66% of white people have received at least one dose of an authorized Covid-19 vaccine. In comparison, just 9% of Latino Americans, 8% of Black Americans, 5% of Asian Americans, fewer than 2% of Native Americans and Alaskan Natives, and just 0.6% of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have received the same.
In response, several hospitals "have taken a leading role in trying to address this disparity," Modern Healthcare reports.
For instance, Kaiser Permanente earlier this month launched a nationwide vaccine information campaign aimed at bolstering confidence among Black, Latino, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. In addition, the health system last week released a Covid-19 vaccine equity toolkit to share approaches on how to more equitably distribute the vaccine among vulnerable communities.
Hospitals eye longer-term relationships
But, according to Modern Healthcare, many health systems hope to leverage their vaccine-related outreach into longer-term relationships with these vulnerable communities that will address health care related inequity in general and foster trust with the medical system.
For example, Stephanie Ledesma, interim SVP of community health programs for Kaiser, said the system's vaccine-related efforts were part of a larger push to address racial health equity. As part of that broader initiative, Kaiser recently pledged $5.4 million in grants to community groups to support efforts to address discrimination and racism against Asian American populations—a pledge that itself builds off the system's $8 million commitment in January to address structural racism, Modern Healthcare reports.
"Through these educational campaigns and the connections with community-based organizations we're able to strengthen individuals' confidence in the system with the end goal of driving toward health and wellness within our communities," Ledesma said.
Similarly, Dan Regan, a spokesperson for Sinai Chicago, said his organization partnered with city officials in February to launch Protect Chicago Plus, a project that aims to distribute vaccines to 15 local neighborhoods most affected by the pandemic. And much like Kaiser, Sinai Chicago plans to leverage that outreach effort into wider-ranging community partnerships to address pandemic-related food and housing insecurity.
According to Regan, Sinai Chicago is hoping the efforts will strengthen community ties, which will in turn help reduce disparities in infant mortality and birth outcomes in the city. "We're leveraging all of our marketing resources including advertising, social media, video content, email, [and] other digital and mobile strategies to position Sinai Chicago as a valuable resource and trusted provider for our communities," Regan said.
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is taking a similar approach, according to Beth NeCamp, executive director of community and civic engagement at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Health Sciences Colleges.
According to NeCamp, medical center staff members educate ED patients about the Covid-19 vaccine and schedule them for vaccination if possible. The medical center is also designing "solutions to address health disparities both related and unrelated to the pandemic," Modern Healthcare reports, in a larger effort to use those community relationships to address social determinants of health.
"Being a good partner is as important as being a community leader," NeCamp said. "We want to be good at both" (Johnson, Modern Healthcare, 3/29).