A New Friend and Teacher in Health Disparities

I am so fortunate to have recently gained a new teacher and colleague in patient safety, Ron Wyatt, MD, MHA, who also serves as Medical Director in the Division of Healthcare Improvement at the Joint Commission. I was introduced to Ron by Knitasha Washington, Ph.D., Executive Director of Consumers Advancing Patient Safety, and another colleague, friend and patient safety partner. Knitasha has also been a fantastic mentor in my quest to learn more about the stories, the names and faces, of those whose lives have been touched by the disparities that still exist in our healthcare system, affecting the safety of still so many patients.

I have much to learn when it comes to the data that drives action in the health disparities domain. However, I realized I do not need a doctorate to understand pain and suffering, or possess the desire to help every patient receive safe, effective, high-quality care no matter their race, socioeconomic status, education or age: data points that light up as warnings of variable healthcare delivery. I’m happy to pass on the knowledge gained through Ron’s and Knitasha’s experience; two healthcare professionals whose lives have been touched by loss due to health disparities. And so…

Here is a link to a recent article by Dr. Ron Wyatt, The Stuff That Is Killing Us, posted on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation website discussing his experience as an IHI Fellow looking at Disparity in the Deep South. Ron was also a speaker at the inaugural RWJF Scholars Forum:Disparities, Resilience, and Building a Culture of Health,” held on December 5, 2014, where “a distinguished panel shared their insights on the urgent problem of health disparities in the U.S.” Following is a video from the RWJF event: