Spectrum Health Expands Commitment to Address Health Inequities
Health equity funding will increase by 40% to total more than $100 million over 10 years
Grand Rapids, Mich., June 12, 2020 – Spectrum Health announced today it plans to accelerate and expand its efforts in addressing racial and ethnic health inequities. The health system already directs significant funding to health improvement programs and plans to increase that commitment in West Michigan as well as in southwest Michigan through its Spectrum Health Lakeland division. As a system, Spectrum Health will dedicate an additional 40% to improve health equity, a total commitment of at least $100 million over the next 10 years.
“For decades, Spectrum Health—including Priority Health—has been committed to meeting the needs of those in our community that experience the poorest health outcomes. Our mission is to improve health, inspire hope and save lives for every person, and we understand the urgent need to do more for communities that for too long have experienced health and social inequities. The events of the past few months related to COVID-19 and systemic racism have highlighted the need to do more for our African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino and other underserved communities. These events have highlighted, for example, the fact that these communities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” said Tina Freese Decker, President & CEO, Spectrum Health.
An essential component of our efforts includes building on established partnerships and collaborations with these communities and with the agencies, clinics and other organizations that serve them. To deepen these relationships, we will first listen.
“Community health improvement is a team effort,” said Robert Roth, chair, Spectrum Health Board of Directors. “Spectrum Health works closely with our community partners to identify and understand the needs of the people we are here to help. We know that good health is greatly impacted by social conditions such as food security, access to affordable housing and economic stability. Together, we will find ways to help people live healthier lives.”
The expanded commitment will make it possible to build on Healthier Communities’ programs based in Grand Rapids and Spectrum Health Lakeland’s efforts to achieve racial and health equity. Such programs include efforts to better manage chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Plans will also include supporting populations impacted by health inequities to more easily access health care close to home and help them stay on track with medications, nutrition, healthy lifestyle habits as well as addressing social determinants of health.
“We know that there are those in our neighborhoods who have suffered the brunt of racism, injustice and health inequity. Their lives have too often been filled with suffering, and too often cut short as a result of disease and trauma,” said Freese Decker. “As a health system our commitment to help runs very deep and is long-standing. We will do our very best to provide a measure of hope, and a better path to improved health and happiness for all.”
Spectrum Health System, a not-for-profit, integrated health system, is committed to improving the health and wellness of our communities. We live our mission every day with 31,000 compassionate professionals, 4,600 medical staff experts, 3,300 committed volunteers and a health plan with more than 1 million members. Our talented physicians and caregivers are privileged to offer a full continuum of care and wellness services to our communities through 14 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, 150 ambulatory sites and telehealth offerings. We pursue health care solutions for today and tomorrow that diversify our offerings. Locally-governed and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, our health system provided $550 million in community benefit in calendar year 2019. Thanks to the generosity of our communities, we received $37 million in philanthropy to support research, academics, innovation and clinical care. Spectrum Health has been recognized as one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM.
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