VITAL2019, America’s Essential Hospitals’ annual conference, covered a wide variety of topics important to essential hospital leaders. In this blog series, we’ll highlight key takeaways from popular sessions at the conference.

In a VITAL2019 session, speakers from essential hospital Navicent Health, in Macon, Ga., discussed their organization’s comprehensive plan to identify disparities and build community partnerships to improve health equity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health equity is “achieved when every person has the opportunity to attain his or her full health potential and no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances.”

Here are three key takeaways from “Equity of Care: Strategy, Partnerships, and Execution.”

    1. Equity must be built into the organization’s culture. Health equity is embedded in Navicent Health’s fabric, including the health system’s research, data, community partnerships, quality, education, and structure. The organization created health equity champions who incorporate key equity awareness and initiatives into unit communication boards, huddles, and meetings. All hospital staff are required to take four equity modules and one equity champion training module. In the last six years, Navicent Health leaders have enhanced the diversity of the health system’s executive and middle management teams, committee leadership, and board membership to better reflect the community they serve. Navicent Health's work to weave equity into the fabric of all they do has positive impact.
    2. Leadership engagement is key to success. Navicent Health’s CEO is the executive sponsor and chair of the Bridging Health Equity Committee, which has four focus areas, each led by a senior executive:
        • diversity leadership and staffing;
        • cultural engagement and adoption;
        • partnerships for health equity; and
        • health equity improvement and research.
    3. Internal and external collaboration is necessary to improve health equity. Navicent Health has built partnerships with community organizations such as MedLaw, Meals on Wheels, and the Coalition to End Homelessness to create healthy communities. Internally, the organization relies on staff volunteers to work with the Healthy Community Department to target social determinants of health and reduce disparities in the community.

To learn more about how essential hospitals are tackling social determinants of health, visit