Boston Medical Center initiative aims to spot, tackle racial equity gaps

Boston Medical Center has launched a new plan to eliminate health equity gaps in healthcare, the organization announced Nov. 16.

The initiative, called the Health Equity Accelerator, aims to tackle health equity gaps among people of different races and ethnicities. This includes tackling disparities for people of color, who make up 70 percent of patients at Boston Medical Center, New England's largest safety-net hospital.

"For more than a century, equity has been central to the mission of Boston Medical Center, whether it was establishing the nation's first preventative food pantry or advocating and investing in affordable housing," Kate Walsh, president and CEO of Boston Medical Center, said in a news release. "The disparities that the COVID pandemic revealed and worsened in our patient population, as well as our nation's long overdue reckoning on race, led us to look deeply at ourselves and the role of healthcare in equity. The launch of the Health Equity Accelerator is a transformative moment for our health system."

The Health Equity Accelerator will focus on maternal and child health, behavioral health, oncology, infectious diseases and chronic conditions.

In the U.S. and Boston, there have long been different outcomes among white people and people of color in these and other areas, Boston Medical Center leaders said. They said they will work with community partners and patients, including a community advisory committee and subcommittees in specific areas of concern, to address healthcare discrepancies.

"BMC's partnerships with community leaders to share information and deliver COVID vaccines to the neighborhoods where our patients live will serve as the foundation for our community work on the accelerator," Thea James, MD, vice president of mission and associate CMO at Boston Medical Center, said in a news release. "No hospital or health system can do this kind of change alone — where we are moving from charity to equity — and patients will have a voice at the table, sharing their lived experiences and informing our work together."

Overall, the initiative will provide a "vehicle to exchange ideas and insights within the wider medical community through publishing and policy conversations," according to Boston Medical Center.

Dr. James and Elena Mendez-Escobar, PhD, executive director of strategy at Boston Medical Center, will lead the Health Equity Accelerator.

Boston Medical Center is asking donors to help pay for the initiative, which is expected to continue for many years, according to The Boston Globe.

Read more about the initiative here.

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