Racism harms health, significantly and without question. We’re taking action at HealthPartners to address bias, racism and the inequity in access to care between different groups of people. Our commitment to building trust, and to being an organization where every person is welcome, included and valued, is more important than ever.
In 2020, HealthPartners formed the Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Cabinet to focus on advancing health equity and eliminating racism. The cabinet is made up of a diverse group of leaders from across HealthPartners, providing leadership, direction and oversight within four key areas:
- Increasing diversity and inclusion in the workplace
- Advancing health equity in care and coverage
- Partnering with the community and advocating for change
- Strengthening our commitment to St. Paul as the largest private employer in the city.
“We have the responsibility and opportunity to help build a stronger organization and community where racism and inequity have no place.”
The Off the Charts podcast, hosted by two HealthPartners physicians, Drs. Kari Haley and Steven Jackson, features candid conversations with guests about health equity, anti-racism, cultural humility and more. Guests include clinicians, leaders and people making a difference in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. The podcast is believed to be the first-of-its-kind audio show on diversity, equity and inclusion produced by a health system.
When COVID-19 vaccines first became available, there were significant disparities in who was receiving the vaccine by race. In response, we began various outreach efforts to connect with patients who were hesitant to get vaccinated or faced barriers to scheduling an appointment. These efforts included providing information and support in multiple languages, providing transportation vouchers and using trusted messengers to address hesitancy.
One of those messengers, Dr. Zeke McKinney, volunteered nearly every Saturday at a local barbershop. Together with his barber, they’ve been dispelling COVID myths and vaccinating Black men while they get a haircut.
Thanks to these efforts and many others, we’ve made significant progress to eliminate disparities in COVID-19 vaccination rates across all races, and we’ve learned new ways to build trust and improve health in partnership with our community.
In July 2020, we opened our new Family Birth Center at Regions Hospital, which included several features specially designed in partnership with the community we serve.
60 percent of patients who deliver babies at Regions Hospital are patients of color, and 25 percent need an interpreter for their care. We designed our new birth center experience to reflect many different cultures and values.
One example is adding food options to our hospital menu that honor cultural traditions. We partnered with the Hmong Health Care Professionals Coalition to develop an authentic chicken soup option. Hmong moms commonly eat an exclusive diet of rice and chicken soup with herbs for the first 30 days after delivery. With the help of Hmong farmers, we sourced the right herbs, and this soup is now available to everyone who wants to order it from the menu.
Through a partnership with local organization Everyday Miracles, HealthPartners is offering full scholarships to train people from Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities to become and work as doulas.
The partnership supports our ongoing efforts to improve the health and well-being of mothers and babies through our Children’s Health Initiative and health equity efforts. Growing evidence shows doulas have a positive impact on birth outcomes and experiences, including decreased cesarean rates, shorter labors and increased breastfeeding rates – all while reducing the overall cost of childbirth.
“Everyday Miracles has been a partner with us for a long time, and they share our goal of reducing disparities in birth outcomes in the community. This scholarship is a new way to improve access to doulas for people of color and make sure all people are cared for and treated with respect during childbirth.”