Advancing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Centering Healthcare Institute
Centering Healthcare Institute (CHI) has an aggressive five-year plan to spread adoption of the
Centering model of care as widely as possible, particularly in the most vulnerable, low-income,
low-resourced communities. We are simultaneously working toward furthering an equity lens
throughout our work, with an internal and external focus.
CHI recognizes that racism and discrimination are deeply ingrained in the social, political and economic structures of our society and by extension in the healthcare institutions. For minorities, these differences result in unequal access to healthcare, quality education, healthy food, livable wages, affordable housing and other social determinants of health. Many researchers believe that chronic stress resulting from repeated exposure to discrimination directly contributes to or exacerbates these issues.
To reduce racial and ethnic health disparities, healthcare professionals must explicitly acknowledge that race and racism factor into healthcare. CHI has a deep history of collaborating with healthcare systems; this level of knowledge and expertise provides us with a unique entry point to incorporate an equity lens into the support services, training and consulting offerings we provide to healthcare practices and institutions.
For example, while the preterm birth rate in the United States increased for the third year in a row to 9.93 racial disparities in birth outcomes are getting worse with the 2017 PTB rate for black infants 49% higher than for all other babies. Centering has been proven to reduce the preterm birth rate and has shown a flattening of racial disparities for women in Centering, with an overall preterm birth rate for black women virtually the same as white women. In more than 100 published studies and peer-reviewed articles, Centering demonstrates improved outcomes, including a 33%-47% decreased risk of preterm birth, more consistent attendance at prenatal and postpartum visits, greater readiness for birth and infant care, higher breastfeeding rates, and improved patient and provider satisfaction scores.
In 2016, CHI formalized its work on equity, diversity, and inclusion within the organization. A cross-organizational team, the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee was created to support staff members to develop understanding, knowledge, expertise and skills among staff and to support the organization in developing an equity lens to use both internally and externally in our programmatic work with our partner sites. In addition, the CHI Board of Directors committed to this issue as an essential grounding for the organization and has subsequently developed a staff/board Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
CHI has engaged the expertise of the Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC) to guide the organization through a comprehensive assessment of our internal systems, structures, products and services, which will enable us to identify opportunities to strengthen our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. IISC will support us in achieving the following outcomes:
• Create a common organizational vision to support the development of an equity framework that incorporates multiple dimensions of diversity
• Increase representation from diverse communities within our organization
• Build a stronger culture of inclusion • Apply an equity lens across our projects and programs
Through this focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion, in our own operations and in our work in
the world, we aim for Centering to contribute to our vision of the future—the elimination of
health disparities in the U.S.