Mustering resources to end disparities in care

AHA News
 You can't have a quality health care system, if you don't have an equitable health care system, according to Ed Martinez, who became chainnan of the Institute for Diversity in Health Management (Institute) on Jan. 1.

That's why Martinez this year wants the Institute, an AHA affiliate dedicated to increasing minority representation in health care leadership, to play a bigger role in helping health care leaders advance 'diversity with a purpose' and 'push forward the Institute's link to the national Equity of Care initiative.' Martinez is a senior health care consultant for the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems. He has more than 30 years of experience in executive leadership and consulting, with a focus on improving quality of care in organizations serving diverse populations.

Martinez says the Institute has an important role to play in supporting the 'National Call to Action' initiative, which the AHA and four other national health care organizations launched two years ago to eliminate health care disparities. Through the Equity of Care initiative, the groups aim to increase collection of race, ethnicity and language data; cultural competency training; and diversity in leadership.

'The Institute is one of the best vehicles to help health care leaders in these areas,' says Martinez. As one example, he cites the Hospital Trustee Professional program, which prepares minority community and business leaders for service on hospital and health system boards.

'The program is more than just identifying trustee candidates,' says Martinez, emphasizing how the program's curriculum prepares leaders for the trustee's role in setting strategy and determining policy, as well the unique challenges and opportunities health care governing boards face in a rapidly changing health care environment.

Launched in 2008 by the Institute and the AHA's Center for Healthcare Governance, the fullday educational program has trained nearly 600 leaders at 14 sessions in cities across the country.

As hospitals and health systems continue their work to promote equitable care, Martinez sees an opportunity for expanded advocacy work at the local, state and federal levels. He says the AHA can help the federal government and others 'develop quality assessment and reimbursement programs that reward good performance in the area of health equity as an essential component of quality care.' For more on the Institute and its programs, visit
Topic: Advocacy and Public Policy

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