8 Hospitals Receive Health Care Equity Certification From The Joint Commission

Feb. 13, 2024
Several hospitals in Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest health network, have received the Health Care Equity Certification

The Joint Commission announced a Health Care Equity Certification in July 2023, and so far eight U.S. hospitals have received the certification. 

In a recent interview with Healthcare Innovation, Jonathan Perlin, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of The Joint Commission, said that disparities that had always been unacceptable became intolerable during the pandemic. “Having the opportunity to focus on health equity became a core part of our agenda. We eliminated 400 standards that we felt were either redundant, obsolete, not evidence-based, or the value was not commensurate to the effort. We only put in one new requirement standard in 2023, and that was for health equity.”

The Health Care Equity Certification is essentially more rigorous than what's required for hospital accreditation, Perlin explained. There are elements of leadership, strategic priority with board involvement, collaboration with patients and community data collection to tackle areas of opportunity, measuring outcomes and provision of care but also promoting workforce diversity, attending to all forms of diversity, including patients with disabilities, and performance improvement. 

Several hospitals in Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest health network, have received the Health Care Equity Certification, including Hackensack University Medical Center, Palisades Medical Center, Jersey Shore University Medical Center, and Ocean University Medical Center. 

“The Joint Commission’s Health Care Equity Certification is a testament to our team members’ dedicated commitment each and every day to providing outstanding, compassionate care to all of our patients,” said Mark D. Sparta, president, Hackensack Meridian Health’s Northern Region, in a statement. “New Jersey is one of the nation's most diverse states, and this certification validates our long-standing efforts to eliminate health disparities and elevate the standard of care. We look forward to building upon this recognition to continue enhancing patient care for all.” 

Another hospital to receive the certification is Stony Brook University Hospital on Long Island in New York.

“At Stony Brook Medicine, fostering health equity is a core mission, and we do it by embracing diversity, addressing health disparities, incorporating inclusive educational initiatives, engaging with communities and promoting a culture of equality,” said William Wertheim, interim executive vice president for Stony Brook Medicine, in a statement. “Healthcare equity is not only an issue of social justice, but a fundamental issue of patient safety, quality of care and inclusive workplace culture.”

In preparation for the process, a Stony Brook Medicine committee established four subcommittees focusing on key priorities, including:
• Data-Driven Care Delivery
• Training and the Culture of Learning
• Community Partnerships
• Diversity, Inclusion, Leadership and Governance

On Feb. 1, The Joint Commission surveyor evaluated SBUH compliance with health equity standards.

Recognition was given to SBUH for implementing exemplary practices, such as employing health equity screening and data collection tools, documenting social work effectively, making accommodations to meet the needs of patients with disabilities, ensuring the presence of in-person interpreters and providing video interpretations through the Patient Education Library.

Additionally, Stony Brook’s many innovative community programs were recognized, including the Mobile Mammography Van and Mobile Dental Clinic, as well as the Stony Brook HOME (Health Outreach and Medical Education), a free student-run and physician-supervised medical clinic that provides comprehensive primary care to uninsured adults on Long Island. Also recognized was the Stony Brook Rooftop Farm and Food Farmacy, which supply approximately 1,500 pounds of fresh produce for patients meal trays and local charities, playing a crucial role in addressing the social determinants of health-related food insecurity.

Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, a clinical affiliate of Rutgers and a 1,070-bed hospital in Paramus, N.J., also received the certification. 

"This certification ensures our patients get what they need for the best outcomes for their health and wellness and provides us with the opportunity to better understand the impact their social and demographic factors have on access to care," said Shari Gold, senior vice president for regulatory compliance & chief quality and equity officer, Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, in a statement. "By addressing the social determinants of health including challenges patients have with transportation, food, finances, and more will help us to break through these barriers and improve health equity."

NYC Health & Hospitals’ Elmhurst Hospital Center as well as NewYork-Presbyterian were also awarded the Health Care Equity Certification by The Joint Commission. 

The review looked at over 40 program-specific standards — including patient experience, quality and safety measures, staff training, recruitment and retention, and community partnerships.
The certification process was led by the Dalio Center for Health Justice at NewYork-Presbyterian, which aims to understand the root causes of health inequities with the goal of improving the health of patients and communities. The process involved clinical care and administrative teams from across the enterprise, and it included an on-site visit by Joint Commission surveyors to the hospital over three days.

“This Joint Commission recognition is a testament to NewYork-Presbyterian’s commitment to addressing the root causes of health inequities and our work to prevent them,” said Julia Iyasere, M.D., M.B.A., senior vice president for Health Justice and Equity at NewYork-Presbyterian and executive director of the Dalio Center for Health Justice, in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to lead the way in making healthcare more just for all.”


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