Providence commits $50 million to address racial disparities in health care

This data-driven, systemwide investment affirms Providence’s commitment to improving health equity, including immediate pandemic response for minority population

RENTON, Wash., Sept. 1, 2020 – Providence, one of the nation’s largest health care systems, announced a new investment of $50 million over the next five years as part of an effort to reduce health disparities and achieve health equity.

Using comprehensive data collection and analysis, the work supported by this investment will serve as a key component of Providence’s commitment to addressing racial disparities in health care and will supplement Providence’s longstanding community benefit work. In 2019 alone, Providence’s community benefit totaled $1.5 billion systemwide.

The investment will support several major work streams over the next five years, beginning with an immediate response to the impact of COVID-19, especially for communities of color and those disproportionately affected by the pandemic. This initial work stream includes expanding outreach and education, increasing the COVID testing supply to marginalized populations, expanding access to care, and ensuring equitable distribution of treatment as well as a COVID vaccine, when it becomes available.

“Population health is focused on understanding the whole population and the health disparities within that population, and then working to improve health outcomes for everybody,” said Rhonda Medows, M.D. president of population health at Providence. “Existing health disparities are being amplified and exacerbated by the pandemic, so it is critical that we take immediate steps to support minority populations who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 as part of our commitment to health equity.”

A recent study led by Providence, published in the International Journal for Health Equity, found that 11 sociodemographic and environmental factors contribute to higher COVID-19 infection and transmission rates among vulnerable populations. These results highlight the urgency and complexity of addressing health disparities in the immediate term to help mitigate the inequitable impacts of this pandemic.

As part of its ongoing efforts to identify and prioritize inequities within the communities it serves, Providence’s new investment will develop strategies based on de-identified data to improve health equity and reduce disparities. Partnering closely with Providence regions throughout its seven-state system to identify specific health disparities in their local communities, Providence will leverage existing system and regional tools, resources and programs to ensure its investment has the greatest impact for the greater number of people.

“A crucial component of this effort is listening to and partnering with our communities to understand the structural and cultural barriers at the local level,” said President and CEO Rod Hochman, M.D. “Providence believes that health is a human right, and therefore we are committed to ensuring everyone in our communities has an equal chance to achieve health.”

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About Providence 
Providence is a national, not-for-profit Catholic health system comprising a diverse family of organizations and driven by a belief that health is a human right. With 51 hospitals, 1,085 physician clinics, senior services, supportive housing and many other health and educational services, the health system and its partners employ more than 120,000 caregivers serving communities across Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, with system offices in Renton, Wash., and Irvine, Calif. Learn about our vision of health for a better world at Providence.org

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