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Putting health justice into action

St. Mary's Medical Center Foundation (SF)

CommonSpirit Health’s Board of Stewardship Trustees in collaboration with CommonSpirit Health Foundation announced the formation of the Lloyd H. Dean Institute for Humankindness and Health Justice in May of 2022. The announcement of the new institute, established to celebrate the legacy of CommonSpirit’s recently retired Chief Executive Officer, Lloyd H. Dean, and  continue his work in the field of equity and justice, was a centerpiece of the 2022 Humankindness Gala.

“Establishing this institute not only honors Lloyd’s enormous contributions to CommonSpirit and American health care across-the-board, but it also gives health equity and social justice permanent seats at the decision-making table,” says Jed York, foundation Board Chairman. “We’ve led the way to create a more equitable health care system. The institute ensures that we will never stop.”

The Lloyd H. Dean Institute for Humankindness and Health Justice will focus on putting health justice into action and delivering equitable care to the most vulnerable people in areas served by CommonSpirit. Its work will build healthier communities, and address critical issues related to behavioral health, maternal health and violence prevention. The institute will catalyze the integration and expansion of all health justice research and programs across the system, ensuring that we address factors contributing to systemic oppression and marginalization resulting from inequitable health care structures.

Whether through the institute or through programs happening at the local level, CommonSpirit makes its dedication to the pursuit of humankindness and health justice evident across the country and throughout the ministry.

As COVID-19 spread across the nation, a generous donation from the Deloitte Health Equity Institute to CommonSpirit Health Foundation enabled CommonSpirit to work in partnership with local community leaders to develop a program to respond to vaccine hesitancy and to help provide access to vaccines in some of the most vulnerable communities. The outreach program used technology to engage rural communities on the importance of vaccination and to help remove the barriers that prevent people from receiving the vaccine. The program involved electronic outreach, vaccine registration and a patient engagement tool designed to connect patients directly to a community navigator to help address specific barriers to care. Over a nine-month period the program sought to engage nearly 50,000 patients in California's Central Coast and areas of Arkansas served by CommonSpirit.

Across the American heartland, CommonSpirit is bringing together a network of partners including 36 clinics in Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Dakota and Nebraska utilizing nearly $6.2 million in grant funding from the Federal Communications Commission’s Connected Care Pilot Program. The goal of the program is to provide patient-based, internet-connected remote monitoring, video visits and remote treatment to vulnerable populations, especially low-income rural residents in medically underserved areas and/or health professional shortage areas. Rural Americans experience significant health disparities, often characterized by indicators such as higher incidence of disease and or disability, increased mortality rates, low life expectancies and higher rates of pain and suffering.

In Southern California, St. Mary Medical Center’s Low Vision Center is dedicated to providing the highest quality clinical care to all people regardless of race, religion or financial status. With funding from St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation, the center provides uninsured and underinsured children with no-cost, optical care and eyeglasses. The center helps screen over 4,600 elementary school-age children annually through its screening program, referring more than 600 each year for optical care. Healthy vision is an important factor in social development, academic performance and overall well-being. The Low Vision Center and its screening program serve the greater Long Beach area, including Compton, where nearly one in four residents fall below the federal poverty level.

Programs such as these exist in communities across our nation thanks in part to generous donors and to CommonSpirit’s commitment to building healthy communities, advocating for those who are poor and vulnerable, and innovating how and where healing can happen both inside our hospitals and out in the community. The Lloyd H. Dean Institute for Humankindness and Health Justice will further these efforts, transforming care by ensuring a health justice lens propels the work and by identifying solutions that are implemented with humankindness to ensure our communities become healthier.

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