A black woman is four to five times more likely to die in childbirth than a white woman, said Lynley Holman, MD, FACOG, a physician with Lawrence OB-GYN Specialists. Even when taking into account insurance coverage, family status, zip code of residence and other factors, this statistic still doesn’t change. That’s reason for pause.
Dr. Lynley Holman
“It is eye opening to me to have black women of childbearing age tell me they are scared to get pregnant,” said Dr. Holman. “This is why it is important to take steps forward in educating ourselves—educating physicians and providers—about our own implicit biases. We must focus on how we can better listen to our patients, and ultimately, how we can care for them in the best ways possible.”
This year, Dr. Holman will join all LMH Health providers in the newly-required training to improve health equity. Physicians and advanced practice providers will now take inclusion, diversity and equity (ID&E) related material as a part of their annual education requirements. This change was made to ensure providers are well-equipped to meet of the health system’s purpose of providing care to all, regardless of a patient’s race, culture, ability to pay and other social determinants of health.
Dr. Holman said she was incredibly proud of this commitment by the health system. It was brought to three different committees and received no pushback or disagreements.
“When this idea was presented, the doctors on the medical staff were excited,” she said. “This truly was a movement from the medical staff saying they wanted to be held accountable for making sure health equity and inclusion topics remained a priority as a part of their education and training. There will always be new ways to manage bleeding and learn about a new tool, but this was a commitment made by the medical staff for the medical staff to ensure learning about all patient populations and addressing the social determinants of health is a priority.”
Dr. Holman is encouraged that this change will positively impact the way doctors provide care, as there will be increased education on how to make sure patients are heard, seen, cared for and served. When focusing on the medicine, sometimes the patient interaction can be neglected. This step forward shows that despite busy schedules and battling COVID, the LMH Health medical staff will not neglect this important topic.
“This is a notable step in the right direction and illustrates the investment LMH Health is making to create awareness, identify inequities and address health disparities at the front lines of patient care,” said Erica Hill, the director of both the LMH Health Foundation Finance & Strategic Initiatives & LMH Health Equity, Inclusion and Diversity.
These required courses range from in-person classes with guest speakers to online trainings on how providers can improve patient care through an ID&E lens. Educational sessions cover understanding implicit bias, recognizing health disparities, demonstrating cultural humility, supporting an inclusive workplace and more.
James Mandigo, MD, a radiologist working with LMH Health, served as the Chief of Staff when the medical staff adopted these new educational requirements. As chief, he worked with the ID&E Health Equity Advancement Team, Credentials Committee and the Medical Executive Committee to advance a recommendation that would require providers with LMH Health to complete continuing medical education focused on social and racial influences of health care—something Dr. Mandigo called an imperative to ensuring equity in patient care.
Hill said the medical staff’s commitment to ID&E education shows our community that LMH Health sees the value and importance of health equity and how it is relevant to the health system’s work overall. She said providing education at every level of the organization helps us better understand the various elements of health equity and its correlation to patient experiences. That can mean more successful health outcomes, regardless of race, culture, ability to pay and more.
“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation describes health equity as the underlying principle that motivates action to eliminate health disparities and inequalities. As a partner for lifelong health, LMH Health understands that health equity is critical, not only from a patient experience perspective, but also from a workplace experience point of view,” Hill said. “Everyone should feel like they belong and feel free to be their true, authentic self – whether they work at LMH Health or choose LMH Health for their care.”
TaNiqua Ward, the Wellness Engagement manager at LMH Health and a part of the Impact Advisor Committee, said LMH Health’s commitment to provider education in inclusion, diversity and equity will serve to advance health equity. She said this shows the health system is putting patients first and being a champion for all.
“Inclusion acknowledges and values a person’s differences and allows them to feel a sense of belonging,” Ward said. “When providers understand the elements of inclusion, we are better positioned to identify and offer services that meet each individual patient’s needs. A provider’s knowledge of a patient’s individual needs – whether it be social or cultural, just to name a couple – allows that patient to receive better quality care.”
Cultural humility plays a big role as well. This term, originally developed by physicians Melanie Tervalon and Jann Murray-Garcia, is a lifelong process of self-reflection and self-critique, whereby the individual not only learns about another’s culture, but starts with an examination of her/his own beliefs and culture identifies. In this context, the concept asserts that a provider should want to learn as much as possible and dive into the background and cultures of other people—and doing so will enable that provider to better care for that patient.
Health equity, cultural humility and inclusion are just a few things LMH Health strives to acknowledge via education throughout the health system. Verdell Taylor, the Diversity & Inclusion manager at LMH Health, says health equity exists when all members of society enjoy a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible.
Recent offerings for providers and employees have focused on Black & Hispanic history, cultural humility, inclusion in the workplace, ageism and its impact on healthcare, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Taylor said that another big factor of education is having the support of leadership.
“Without the support of our senior leadership, we would not be able to hit every area of education that we need,” said Taylor. “The education we provide each month is fully supported and encouraged by our CEO and all members of our senior leadership team. This support is an integral part of having a strong foundation in provider and associate ID&E education.”
Health Equity Advancement Fund
As part of LMH Health’s commitment to better serve all populations in our community, we are increasing our focus on health equity. Our goal is to directly address social determinants of health through education and community partnerships. But we need your help!
Your gifts to the Health Equity Advancement Fund help fund investments in patient care, community education, charitable care, wellness and more. If you would like to make a gift to the LMH Health Foundation, click the link below to learn how.