Addressing Healthcare Disparities in the Communities We Serve
Health care equity is a top priority at Luminis Health, a non-profit health system in Maryland. As we strive to become a national model for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI), Luminis Health is committed to addressing long-standing health disparities that have particularly impacted Black communities and other communities of color. I am passionate about our JEDI focus because of my own experiences as a young child forced into court-ordered busing to integrate schools in 1972. As the president of a hospital less than a mile away from the elementary school where I first experienced racism, I am in a unique position to address these important issues.
We must first recognize that racial disparities exist throughout health care. We saw this front and center during the COVID-19 pandemic when our communities of color were hardest hit with cases, hospitalizations and deaths. We mobilized and provided COVID-19 education, outreach and supported multiple state-run and community COVID-19 testing and vaccine sites. Through the work and dedication of our CEO Tori Bayless and the Health Equity and Anti-Racism Task Force, Luminis Health is guided by 10 strategic priorities to confront racism, address the impacts of systemic inequity and dismantle structural injustice. Our teams have already instituted interventions to reduce C-sections overall, especially among Black women. Members of our obstetric services have completed training on implicit bias recognition and mitigation. We regularly run mobile health screenings for patients with diabetes and high blood pressure.
When Luminis Health was formed, we made a commitment to increase high-quality, accessible and safe healthcare in Prince George’s County, an area outside of Washington, D.C. with nearly one million residents. Since 2019, we have invested $85 million at Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center (LHDCMC) in Lanham, including a new Behavioral Health Pavilion to provide a broad continuum of services for people dealing with mental health issues and substance use disorders.
Luminis Health CEO Tori Bayless and Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center President Deneen Richmond joined dignitaries for the ribbon cutting of the new Behavioral Health Pavilion in June 2022.
I am proud to embark on a new journey to expand women’s and children’s health care services. It is unacceptable that 8 out of 10 women have to deliver their baby outside of Prince George’s County because of a lack of obstetrical and other healthcare services. As someone who grew up and still calls Prince George’s County home, I experienced this challenge firsthand when I gave birth to both my sons.
One of the bold goals of Vision 2030, our 10-year strategic plan, is to eliminate maternal and infant mortality. The maternal mortality rate for Black women in Prince George’s County is 50 percent higher than the national average. To address this life and death issue, we are now raising $300 million to renovate and upgrade LHDCMC. A major component of the project is to build a Women’s Health Center for inpatient obstetrics services, labor and delivery and postpartum care. Once Luminis Health receives state approval for the proposed women’s tower, we’re ready to begin construction on our campus, which will take three to five years to complete.
As LHDCMC approaches its 50th anniversary of serving the community, we are respectful of our legacy, and confident about our future. Our team is committed to bringing a brighter, healthier future for the places we call home with health care close to home.
Deneen Richmond is the president of Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center.