Jefferson Healthcare (WA) Shares Health Equity Journey

August 1, 2022
for Hospital/Pharmacy/Home Health Staff

Jefferson Healthcare (WA) Shares Health Equity Journey

Jefferson Healthcare is a 25-bed critical access hospital located in Port Townsend, WA. Even though this hospital is small in size, its impact on health equity for their patient population is mighty.

Jefferson Healthcare’s journey in health equity began in 2013 when a Patient and Family Advisory Council was created and later transformed into an Equity Committee. Since then, the hospital has developed an Equity Dashboard, participated in the IHI Pursuing Equity Learning and Action Network and now has health equity as a strategic priority for the hospital. See timeline.

This strategic priority is led by Dunia Faulx, MPH, director of population health and care transformation who leads the Health Equity committee and makes every effort to use health equity data to identify gaps or disparities in care. An improvement opportunity was quickly realized with the actual collection of Race, Ethnicity and Language (REaL) patient data and the goals were: 1) decrease the “other” response by 25%; 2) create a training toolkit and; 3) at least 90% of staff complete training. See an example of Jefferson Healthcare’s Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle for improvement.

Lessons learned during the Study phase that were considered for the next PDSA cycle included:

  • Inconsistent process/emphasis on asking for race, ethnicity and language data
  • Belief that once a patient is in the system, the information does not need to be reassessed
  • Staff missing the connection to the ‘why’
  • Lack of standard onboarding and training materials in all departments
  • Staff Concerns: offending patients, assuming patients don’t want to answer, don’t want to put anyone on the spot

Jefferson Healthcare’s health equity journey has been successful due to their strategic priorities, committee members and dedication to quality improvement. Other keys to success include:

  • Start small and celebrate often
  • Leadership support and vision is vital
  • Involve patients, staff and community
  • Data driven approach
  • When it feels uncomfortable, lean in to the conversation

See Alliant HQIC website for the Jefferson Healthcare’s presentation and recording as well as the change path for key takeaways, implementation strategies and resources.