Addressing healthcare disparities in the communities we serve

As we observe National Minority Health Month, it is a good time to reinforce our belief that everyone deserves high-quality healthcare and healthy communities.

Healthcare equity is a top priority at Luminis Health, a nonprofit health system in Maryland. As we strive to become a national model for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Luminis Health is committed to addressing long-standing health disparities that have particularly impacted Black communities and other communities of color. I am passionate about our JEDI focus because of my own experiences as a young child forced into court-ordered busing to integrate schools in 1972. As the president of a hospital less than a mile from the elementary school where I first experienced racism, I am in a unique position to address these important issues. 

We must first recognize that racial disparities exist throughout healthcare. We saw this front and center during the COVID-19 pandemic when our communities of color were hardest hit with cases, hospitalizations and deaths. We mobilized and provided COVID-19 education and outreach, and supported multiple state-run and community COVID-19 testing and vaccine sites. Luminis Health led the way by administering more than 125,000 COVID-19 vaccines in our communities. Through the work and dedication of our CEO Tori Bayless and the Health Equity and Anti-Racism Task Force, Luminis Health is guided by 10 strategic priorities to confront racism, address the impacts of systemic inequity and dismantle structural injustice. Our teams have instituted interventions to reduce C-sections overall, especially among Black women. Members of our obstetric services have completed training on implicit bias recognition and mitigation. We have run mobile health screenings for patients with diabetes and high blood pressure.

When Luminis Health was formed, we made a commitment to increase high-quality, accessible, safe healthcare in Prince George's County, an area outside of Washington, D.C., with nearly one million residents. Since 2019, we have invested $85 million at Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center in Lanham, including recently opening a new behavioral health pavilion to provide inpatient mental health services, and outpatient mental health and substance use services, something desperately needed in our community and nationwide. This new center has an inpatient psychiatric unit, and other services such as walk-in urgent care, a mental health clinic and psychiatric day programs. This center is another example of our commitment to our community by offering residents expanded access to high-quality treatment, rehabilitation and support services. 

I am proud to embark on a new journey to expand women's and children's healthcare services in Prince George's County. It is unacceptable that 8 out of 10 women have to deliver their baby outside of the county because of a lack of obstetrical and other healthcare services. As someone who grew up and still calls Prince Georgecs County home, I experienced this challenge firsthand when I gave birth to both my sons.

One of the bold goals of Vision 2030, our 10-year strategic plan, is to eliminate maternal and infant mortality. Itcs a deep concern because the maternal mortality rate for Black women in Prince George's County is 50 percent higher than the national average. To address this life and death issue, we are now raising $300 million to renovate and upgrade LHDCMC. A major component of the long-term project is to build a Women's Health Center for inpatient obstetrics services, labor and delivery, and postpartum care. We're already addressing some of these unmet needs by offering free mammograms and a variety of minimally-invasive treatments, including fibroids and gynecologic cancers. The health system has also expanded surgical services to include general abdominal, bariatric and bladder surgeries. Once Luminis Health receives state approval for the proposed women’s tower, we're ready to begin construction on our campus, which will take three to five years to complete. 

We expect to add more than 100 full-time employees for the new women's health center, including physicians, nurses, technicians, social workers and support staff. We are committed to having a workforce that is reflective of our community. Approximately 70 percent of our employees live within Prince George's County and our goal is to hire even more from the county. To enhance our already racially diverse staff, we've increased recruiting nursing students at historically Black colleges and universities, partnering with area high schools and community colleges to offer internship opportunities for students that may lead to future employment, as well as finding opportunities to hire people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.

Luminis Health is also committed to supporting minority business enterprises and locally-owned businesses. We have adopted a new supplier diversity program to raise awareness of our commitment; help us to better connect with MBEs and local businesses; incorporating a requirement to include diverse vendors in sourcing events, as well as new or renewing contracts; and our internal supply chain leaders are partnering with our group purchasing organization to find and analyze contract opportunities. 

While we celebrate National Minority Health Month, our JEDI journey is unwavering and continues every single day. With the support of key community stakeholders, state and local leaders and our team members we can collectively address health inequities, improve health outcomes for all and make meaningful change within our organization and the communities we serve. Luminis Health's blueprint could very well be used by health systems across the country because we all want a brighter, healthier future for the places we call home with healthcare close to home.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars