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Friday, January 28, 2022
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Newly formed hospital-community partnerships participate in pilot program offered 
by the American Hospital Association and the Institute for Diversity and Health Equity.

(Courtesy of Holy Name Hospital) Studies reveal that ZIP code—even more than genetic code—is a strong predictor of health, well-being and lifespan. In short, where you live may influence how long and how well you live. For many communities, a small distance can add up to large health equity gaps and disparities.

Hospitals and health systems are in a unique position to close this health divide. In response, the American Hospital Association (AHA) and its affiliate, the Institute for Diversity and Health Equity, with generous support from the Aetna Foundation, are launching the Hospital Community Cooperative (HC2), a national program dedicated to closing gaps in health equity.

Holy Name Medical Center is one of just 10 hospital teams in the country and the only hospital in New Jersey to participate in the HC2 program. With the AHA’s support, Holy Name will launch two projects targeting cancer disparities and access to care difficulties experienced in Asian-American communities through screening, education and linkage to care over the next 10-12 months.

The first project focuses on preventive screening for colorectal cancer among Asian-Americans through the distribution of 300 FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Test) kits during community events, with the expectation of connecting those with positive results to a primary care provider or gastrointestinal specialist. The second project involves the study of high-risk stomach cancer among the Asian-American population, with the goal of identifying 1,000 people eligible to complete a risk-assessment questionnaire distributed at community outreach events. High-risk individuals from the survey will be linked to a physician for follow-up care.

“We believe it is our responsibility to not only treat sick people, but to also keep people healthy through education and preventive care programs,” says Kyung Hee Choi, vice president of Asian Health Services at Holy Name Medical Center. “Through the support and guidance of the AHA’s Hospital Community Cooperative, we know we can help advance health equity and address disparities in our communities, especially among the Asian-American patient population. This aligns with our focus on improving cultural competency in health care for every patient.”

Dr. Sung Kwon, a surgical oncologist and the lead physician of the project, notes, “Despite many identification and early detection methods available, cancer still stands as the leading cause of death amongst Asian-Americans. Due to many barriers to care, the population that should be seeking cancer screening and care often goes unnoticed until it reaches a stage where treatments are more involved and less curative. Through this project, we want to further promote the preventive approach to cancer care for our Asian-American communities.”

Each team selected for the 2018-19 program comprises members from an AHA hospital and the community. The yearlong inaugural program recently kicked off in Chicago with an intensive three-day learning lab featuring nationally recognized population health and community care experts to provide customized technical assistance to the teams.

A national advisory committee consisting of multisector health improvement subject matter experts will contribute high-level guidance and decision-making support throughout the life of the program. The AHA and partners will complete an evaluation and report the findings in late 2019.

“The 2018–19 program is a pilot to help us strengthen our understanding of how to build a meaningful national community of practice for health care organizations that supports the cultivation of strong, sustainable partnerships through local health equity interventions,” said Jay Bhatt, AHA senior vice president and chief medical officer. “HC2 aims to help shape the narrative around diversity and health equity by generating a new class of AHA Equity of Care champions, providing models of success for other hospitals and health systems, and opening the door for bolder approaches that move resources, policies and practices upstream.”

About Holy Name Medical Center

Holy Name Medical Center is a fully accredited, not-for-profit health care facility based in Teaneck, New Jersey, with off-site locations throughout Bergen County. Founded and sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace in 1925, the comprehensive, 361-bed medical center offers leading-edge medical practice and technology administered in an environment rooted in a tradition of compassion and respect for every patient. Holy Name provides high-quality health care across a continuum that encompasses education, prevention, early intervention, comprehensive treatment options, rehabilitation and wellness maintenance.

About the Institute for Diversity and Health Equity

The Institute for Diversity and Health Equity, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, works closely with health services organizations to advance health equity for all and to expand leadership opportunities for ethnic minorities in health management. For more information, visit www.diversityconnection.org.

About the American Hospital Association

The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides insight and education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA  website at www.aha.org.

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