Spectrum Health reinforces commitment to equity

Published 12:41 pm Thursday, October 22, 2020

ST. JOSEPH – Today, Spectrum Health issued an anti-racism pledge, committing to act against structural racism and pledging to take on the challenge to eliminate racism and its impact on health, hope and lives. The pledge follows Spectrum Health’s announcement to team members last week designating Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday beginning in 2021.

“At Spectrum Health, we have firsthand knowledge of racial inequities. Martin Luther King Jr. saw it more than 50 years ago, and we see it today. We see how health outcomes differ among racial and ethnic groups, those living in rural and urban areas and without financial security,” said Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO, Spectrum Health. “This pledge affirms our health system’s commitment to eliminating health disparities and achieving health equity. It also outlines specific actions we are committed to taking, now and in the future, to address systemic racism internally and externally.”

In March 1966, at a Conference of the Medical Community for Human Rights, Martin Luther King Jr. called the injustices in health care the most shocking and inhuman of all forms of inequality. In 2020, COVID-19 illuminates again the gross disparities in health and health outcomes. Health systems are at a critical juncture and inflection point.

Spectrum Health’s anti-racism pledge was developed with the strategic direction of the health system’s internal Health Equity Council. The purpose of this newly formed council is to guide and coordinate a systemwide approach to measurably advance health equity by reducing health disparities experienced throughout its service areas.

Spectrum Health has focused its diversity, equity and inclusion  efforts in five areas: increasing the organization’s cultural competency, supplier diversity, community engagement, equity of care and workforce diversity.

The anti-racism pledge commits to doing more, including:

  • Conducting rigorous analyses of internal procedures, policies, practices and cultural norms of the organization
  • Increasing team member knowledge and skill
  • Ensuring strategic priorities and associated tactics are regularly and systematically evaluated for their impact on health equity among patients, members and their communities
  • Developing, implementing and rigorously evaluating data-informed strategies to ensure health equity among patients, members and the communities Spectrum Health serves

In addition, Spectrum Health has signed on with the American Hospital Association’s #123forEquity Pledge, and is embracing its role as an Anchor Institution. Tina Freese Decker has also joined PwC’s CEO ACT!ON for Diversity and Inclusion commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.