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Spectrum Health Steps Up Commitment To Address Health Inequities

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Spectrum Health

Spectrum Health recently announced plans to expand its commitment to address racial and ethnic health inequities in West and Southwest Michigan.  As a system, Spectrum Health will dedicate an additional 40-percent to improve health equity.

We are working to try to create the most equitable health outcomes possible. at the individual level, at the neighborhood level and the regional level that we serve.”

Spectrum Health says it will accelerate and expand its efforts addressing racial and ethnic health inequities to the tune of 100-million dollars over the next ten years.   Dr. Kenneth Fawcett is the V.P. of Spectrum Health’s Healthier Communities.    He says Spectrum Health has long been committed to meeting the needs of those with the poorest health outcomes.  And now, with COVID 19, more attention is being paid to those disparities.

That’s the important thing to note. While COVID 19 has demonstrated disproportionate outcomes among populations of color. The African American population and our Latin X populations, these differences have existed long before COVID 19 but it’s just kind of held up a mirror  and shined a light of truth to show the type of inequities that exist.”

Dr. Fawcett says an essential component of their efforts includes building on established partnerships. For instance, instead of creating for example, a new clinic, they could collaborate with those already in existence in the underserved communities and enhance the work they’re doing to address various inequities.

“If you look at the life expectancy that exists in East Grand Rapids and you compare that to the life expectancy that is in East town, and mind you those two communities are separated by a cobblestone street. The life expectancy differential between those two communities is 17.8 years; I mean that’s in our own backyard. We can do better than that, we can help to narrow those areas of discrepancy.”

Fawcett says there will be a high degree of collaboration as well as listening as they move in a direction of positive change.

Jennifer is an award winning broadcast news journalist with more than two decades of professional television news experience including the nation's fifth largest news market. She's worked as both news reporter and news anchor for television and radio in markets from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo all the way to San Francisco, California.