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Rush Again Recognized as Leader in Health Equity

For the fourth time in five years, the American Hospital Association has chosen Rush University Medical Center as an honoree for its annual award for equity of care, which recognizes outstanding efforts among hospitals and health care systems to advance equity of care to all patients. The Medical Center is one of only five hospitals from across the nation to receive recognition for health equity this year from the AHA.

The award winners and honorees were recognized at the AHA’s annual Leadership Summit in San Diego, California, on Thursday, July 25.

Recently renamed the Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care Award, the award is given to spur progress toward achieving health equity by calling attention to hospitals’ successes in this area. The change in name was made in honor of the first black person and the first hospital trustee to chair the AHA Board. A trustee of a safety net hospital, Boone was a tireless advocate for health equity. 

“As an academic health system serving a wide and diverse range of individuals and communities in Chicago, Rush is committed to providing equitable care for all,” says Rush University Medical Center CEO Omar Lateef. “Being named an honoree for the American Hospital Association’s Equity of Care Award for the fourth time shows the strength of our commitment, and we are proud to be recognized as a national leader in the movement toward greater health equity.”

The AHA is a not-for-profit association of nearly 5,000 health care provider organizations nationwide. The AHA noted Rush University Medical Center in its press release for the following efforts to advance equity of care:

  • In addition to capturing race, ethnic, and language data about its patient, the Rush University System for Health is implementing social determinants of health screenings across the system and community settings to identify risk factors, including food insecurity, housing, instability and transportation. Rush is mitigating these social determinants through strategic partnerships that provide home food delivery services to older adults and community health for those in need of primary care. 
  • Through its LGBTQ Leadership Council, Rush has provided more than 12 training sessions to students, staff and faculty on gender-affirming care. Rush is committed to increasing access to culturally competent LGBTQ services, which includes hiring efforts for providers specializing in gender-affirmation services.

The AHA previously named Rush an honoree for the 2015, 2017 and 2018 Equity of Care awards, in recognition of the following initiatives:

  • The Rush Diversity Leadership Council’s efforts to further increase diversity and inclusion among leadership, governance, the university and patient experience by developing a five-year, 2018-2022, diversity and inclusion strategy.
  • Development of the social determinants of health screening tool, created in collaboration with community partners
  • Use of technology, including a “disparities navigator,” to examine different health outcomes among patients and target interventions
  • Pioneering work of Rush’s ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Task Force, which has led to the Medical Center being honored for disability equality in the workplace
  • Rush’s status as the only hospital in Illinois to be nationally certified in health care interpretation services
  • Rush’s leadership in establishing the health improvement collaborative West Side United, with the goal of reducing by half the 16-year life expectancy gap between residents of the West Side and Chicago’s Loop by 2030
  • Rush’s Anchor Mission, dedicated to building the economic vitality of West Side communities through a strategy of hiring, buying and sourcing, investing and volunteering locally
  • Rush’s status as the first hospital in the nation to implement a single sign-on process with the social referral resource platform, NowPow. 

In addition to Rush, the AHA chose three other health care providers this year as honorees: Atrium Health in Charlotte, North Carolina; Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York; and Sutter Health in Sacramento, California. Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland was chosen as the recipient of the 2019 Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care Award.

“Hospitals and health systems that participate in the Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care Award process demonstrate a commitment to improving health for all people. Their work is not only a moral imperative, but it’s also the way in which hospitals will be positioned to succeed under population health and value-based care,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “We thank Anne Arundel Medical Center and the Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care honorees for their innovative work to improve outcomes and advance health equity in the communities they serve.”

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