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Parkland teams with Hospital Community Cooperative to tackle health inequities in Dallas County


Irving, Texas. February 4, 2019

Studies reveal that ZIP code — even more than genetic code — is a strong predictor of health, well-being and lifespan. In short, where you live may influence how long and how well you live. For many communities, a small distance can add up to large health disparities.

Hospitals and health systems are in a unique position to close this health divide. In response, the American Hospital Association (AHA) and its affiliate the Institute for Diversity and Health Equity, with generous support from the Aetna Foundation, are launching the Hospital Community Cooperative (HC²), a national program dedicated to closing gaps in health equity.

Parkland Health & Hospital System is one of 10 hospital teams in the country to participate in the HC² program and learning lab. Through this initiative, Parkland will: institute a standardized mechanism to achieve health equity by integrating public health with the traditional healthcare model; focus on reducing latent breast cancer diagnoses in two geographic areas with high African American and Hispanic populations in Dallas County (the 75216 and 75217 ZIP codes, respectively); identify key social determinants of health contributing to latent diagnoses of breast cancer; and deploy a “collective impact collaborative” model with internal and external stakeholders to address these determinants. Outcomes will include a targeted increase of breast cancer education and screening as well as earlier detection of Stage I/II breast cancers. The effort is part of a national call to action to eliminate health and healthcare disparities and tackle population health issues.

“Parkland wants to acknowledge the voice and resources of the communities we serve. Achieving health and healthcare equity is a partnership between communities and healthcare providers,” said Charles Horne, Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Health Equity at Parkland. “Through our partnerships with the city of Dallas and the American Cancer Society and with the support and guidance of the AHA’s Hospital Community Cooperative, we know we can help advance health equity and address life expectancy gaps in our communities.”

Each team selected for the 2018–19 program is comprised of members from an AHA hospital and the community. The year-long inaugural program kicked off in Chicago in early January with an intensive three-day learning lab featuring nationally recognized population health and community care experts to provide customized technical assistance to the teams.

A National Advisory Committee consisting of multisector health improvement subject matter experts will contribute high-level guidance and decision-making support throughout the life of the program. The AHA and partners will complete an evaluation and report the findings in late 2019.

"The 2018–19 program is a pilot to help us strengthen our understanding of how to build a meaningful national community of practice for healthcare organizations that supports the cultivation of strong, sustainable partnerships through local health equity interventions,” said Jay Bhatt, AHA senior vice president and chief medical officer. “HC² aims to help shape the narrative around diversity and health equity by generating a new class of AHA Equity of Care champions, providing models of success for other hospitals and health systems, and opening the door for bolder approaches that move resources, policies and practices upstream.”

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