Health Equity and Access: Addressing a Challenge That Too Many People Don’t See
Providence commits significant financial resources and maps out specific actions to address health inequities.
// By Alan Shoebridge //
Getting access to care has been difficult in many parts of the country for years. Even in densely populated urban areas, a shortage of physicians and clinicians often made setting appointments for primary and specialty care a frustrating experience. And then 2020 hit. The COVID-19 pandemic intensified the staffing shortage and further restricted access.
Today, access to care remains constrained by that staffing shortage. Yet this is just one barrier to getting care. Systemic societal issues pose additional barriers for many communities.
With that in mind, Providence has joined other health systems and community partners to identify ways to improve health equity.
Health Equity Defined
If you work in health care, more than likely you’ve heard the term health equity — especially since COVID, which revealed glaring health disparities. Whitney Haggerson, vice president of health equity at Providence, sums it up this way: “Health equity is ensuring that everyone has the same opportunity to live their healthiest life. Achieving health equity requires us to understand and value the individual and adapt our approaches to meet them where they are.”
Providence, which operates 51 hospitals in seven states, has made a significant commitment to improving health equity. In late 2020, Providence announced a new investment of $50 million over five years as part of an effort to reduce health disparities and achieve health equity.
The five-year commitment of funding is reflective of the level of commitment needed to build truly sustainable interventions.