Hennepin Healthcare is one of the first healthcare organizations to meet or exceed rigorous requirements for national health equity accreditation

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) recently announced that Hennepin Healthcare earned its Health Equity Accreditation Plus accreditation, which recognizes organizations that lead the market in providing culturally and linguistically sensitive services, and work to reduce health care disparities. NCQA awards Accreditation to organizations that meet or exceed its rigorous requirements for health equity. Hennepin Healthcare was one of two healthcare organizations in the country to receive this recognition – the first time NCQA has accredited healthcare systems.   

Dr. Nneka Sederstrom, Hennepin Healthcare’s Chief Health Equity Officer, has been leading the way in the organization’s efforts to align their practices into policies.

“Having this accreditation highlights our commitment to the community to improve our health equity outcomes and truly be the trusted healthcare system for all.”

The application process, which in the past has only included health care insurance plans, required Hennepin Healthcare to go through not only the rigorous NCQA Health Equity Accreditation Plus steps, but also complete the foundational Health Equity Accreditation process.

“We had to do both at the same time,” said Dr. Sederstrom. “But we found that we had already accomplished most of the basics, so we could focus on the ‘plus’ requirements.”

NCQA’s Health Equity Accreditation Plus evaluates how well an organization complies with standards in the following areas: organizational readiness; race/ethnicity, language, gender identify and sexual orientation; access and availability of language services; practitioner network cultural responsiveness; culturally and linguistically appropriate services programs; reducing health care disparities; program to improve social risks and address needs; collection, integration and analysis of community and individual data; cross-sector partnerships and engagement; data management and interoperability; and referrals, outcomes and impact.

“Earning Health Equity Accreditation Plus shows that an organization is making a breakthrough in providing excellent health care to diverse populations. I congratulate any organization that achieves this level of distinction,” said NCQA President Margaret E. O’Kane. “Eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health care is essential to improving the quality of care overall.”

NCQA is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations. It also recognizes clinicians and practices in key areas of performance. NCQA’s Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS®) is the most widely used performance measurement tool in health care. NCQA’s website (ncqa.org) contains information to help consumers, employers and others make more-informed health care choices. NCQA can be found online at ncqa.org, on Twitter @ncqa, on Facebook at facebook.com/NCQA.org/ and on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/company/ncqa.

About Hennepin Healthcare
Hennepin Healthcare is an integrated system of care that includes HCMC, a nationally recognized Level I Adult Trauma Center and Level I Pediatric Trauma Center and acute care hospital, as well as a clinic system with primary care clinics located in Minneapolis and across Hennepin County. It is operated by Hennepin Healthcare System, Inc., a subsidiary corporation of Hennepin County. Learn more about Hennepin Healthcare’s commitment to health equity at hennepinhealthcare.org/health-equity

Forced to move: Eviction, household health and hardships in families with very young children

Infant and toddler health and development is affected by housing instability – specifically when families experience eviction. In a new study that focused on a large, geographically, and racially/ethnically diverse sample of families with young children, researchers examined how history of formal and informal evictions affect child and parent health and family economic hardship. The “Eviction and Household Health and Hardships in Families with Very Young Children,” study is available in the October 2022 Pediatrics.

“Most data on evictions relies on court filings to know how many families have been evicted,” explains Dr. Diana Cutts, Chair of Pediatrics at Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis and the lead author of the study. “However, evictions don’t always go through the courts and we wanted to capture both formal and informal evictions to understand how that affected child and adult health. We interviewed families in emergency departments and primary care clinics.”

Nearly 2 million US households are evicted or involuntarily displaced annually, and those with children are at an increased risk for eviction – a risk that increases with each additional child.

“You can just imagine how disrupting these evictions can be for families – especially abrupt, informal evictions when there’s a sudden displacement that is catastrophic for families, leading them to accept whatever housing is available at the time, regardless of location or quality,” said Dr. Cutts.

The families in this study are not nationally representative but rather a sentinel sample, primarily composed of families with low incomes accessing urban hospitals with a high proportion of both caregivers of color and immigrant caregivers, compared to national statistics.

Using cross-sectional surveys of 26,441 caregivers with a young child less than 48-month-old from 2011-2019 in emergency departments (ED) and primary care clinics, Dr. Cutts and her team investigated relationships between 5-year history of formal (court-involved) and informal (not court-involved) evictions with caregiver and child health, history of hospitalizations, hospital admission from the ED on the day of the interview, and housing-related and other material hardships.

Compared to no evictions, evictions were associated with 1.43 greater odds of the child to have fair to poor health, 1.55 greater odds of the child to have developmental risk, and 1.24-times greater odds for the child to have hospital admission from the ED, as well as adverse caregiver and hardship outcomes.

While eviction’s causes and consequences may be complex and varied, the study’s findings suggest reducing evictions, both formal and informal, may address health disparities and help young families meet their basic needs. Policymakers, community organizations, and health professionals have important roles in designing evidence-based policy solutions to reduce evictions and improve opportunities for families to meet their basic needs. This study’s findings provide evidence to support investment in rental assistance and affordable housing production, eviction prevention policies, income-focused benefits, and social determinants of health screening and community connections in health care settings. Such multifaceted efforts may decrease formal and informal eviction incidence and mitigate potential harmful associations for very young children and their families.

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