Through a new partnership, MetroHealth and CHC: Creating Healthier Communities plan to document MetroHealth's approach to integrated health equity and offer it as a model for hospital systems, associations, nonprofits, businesses and others nationwide.
"The MetroHealth Model" incorporates health equity into all aspects of the business and community and addresses the social determinants of health by focusing on everything from the environment and greenspace to education, jobs and housing, according to a news release.
"We bring hope, health and humanity to our community by focusing on the whole person, whether that is providing them outstanding medical care, or fresh vegetables, or access to housing, greenspace and exercise, or making vaccinations available to them in their neighborhood," said Dr. Akram Boutros, MetroHealth president and CEO, in a provided statement. "It's about being brave and accountable in our relentless pursuit to eliminate barriers, serve others, and walk alongside every person in their journey to health."
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MetroHealth and CHC — which works to advance equity and address barriers to health — plan to create a road map for other organizations seeking to advance health equity in their communities through proven practices, according to the release.
CHC and its partner, the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, will use 15 years of MetroHealth data to develop a case study and replication guide, according to the release, which notes both are planned to be available in early 2023. The guide will highlight MetroHealth's model, which, according to the release, includes a leadership profile on taking courageous action, as well as information on how to weigh risk against doing the right thing; how to engage community stakeholders; interventions tested and piloted; business benefits and the investment case; and resulting community impact and strategies that have proven effective to accelerate health and equity in Cleveland.
"CHC works with thousands of groups across the country, and this is the most effective model we've come across that directly addresses all the facets of health disparities in one of the most stressed environments in America: Cleveland," said Thomas G. Bognanno, CHC president and CEO, in a provided statement. "Under Dr. Boutros' leadership, MetroHealth has risen to these challenges, providing hope — and a model to follow — that proves it is possible to tackle these issues anywhere."
MetroHealth's work in the community ranges from housing to education to workforce and beyond. Examples include, according to the release: creating a high school within the hospital, building affordable housing and senior housing, operating maternal housing, working with the foster care program to focus on healing, supporting inclusive job fairs and workforce development programs, and increasing employee wages.
MetroHealth's whole-health approach also includes leading school-based health programs, improving the county jail health program to significantly improve outcomes, and partnering with nonprofits to provide wrap-around services on-site for patients. The health system provides intergenerational behavioral health programs and has added beds for treatment of patients struggling with mental health and addiction, according to the release.
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"MetroHealth and CHC are unwavering in their pursuit of an equitable future for all people," said Kevin Clayton, CHC board chair and Cleveland Cavaliers vice president of diversity, inclusion and community engagement, in a provided statement. "MetroHealth is doing the hard work right here in Cleveland, and it's paying off."
Certified as an EcoDistrict, MetroHealth is committed to inclusive, sustainable development "focused on equity, community resilience, climate protection, collaboration and measurement," according to the statement, which points to the 26-acre community park created at the center of the system's main campus.
"Our work at CHC is done in partnership with nonprofits, businesses, government agencies and others across the country, with a singular focus to bring about improved community health outcomes," said Valerie Rochester, CHC chief health equity officer, in a provided statement. "This comprehensive, multi-level community health improvement model that MetroHealth has created in Cleveland is the seed that healthcare systems in other cities just like Cleveland can plant, working with other community members to grow and achieve similar results."
MetroHealth is also a collaborating partner with CHC in a project to address health disparities impacting Black pregnant women and reduce pre-term births, according to the release. Through the project, funded by the Anthem Foundation, MetroHealth will validate pre-term birth screening practices conducted in Cleveland and other communities.
This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain's Cleveland Business.