Newshub headline with Children's Wisconsin logo
Nine Children’s Wisconsin leaders selected for national leadership program to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care

Children's Wisconsin selected for national program to eliminate disparities in health care

Nine leaders from Children’s Wisconsin and Children’s Community Health Plan (CCHP) in Milwaukee have been selected to participate in a year-long executive leadership program designed to address racial and ethnic disparities in health care.

They join 65 individuals from 19 health care organizations from around the United States and Canada selected for the Disparities Leadership Program 2020-2021. They join a cohort of 182 other organizations who have or are currently participating in the Disparities Leadership Program from 2007-present. Participants are:

  • Sue Baker, director, Quality Improvement and HEDIS Reporting, CCHP

  • Bridget Clementi, vice president, Community Health, Children’s Wisconsin

  • Adam Cook, vice president, Health Management Operations, Children's Wisconsin

  • Theresa Jones, vice president, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, Children’s Wisconsin

  • Michelle Mettner, vice president, Government and Legal Affairs, Children’s Wisconsin

  • Sarah Pouzar, director, Quality and Performance Improvement, Children’s Wisconsin

  • Mark Rakowski, chief operating officer, CCHP

  • Robert Rohloff, MD, medical director, Health Management/Community Services, Children’s Wisconsin

  • Jacqueline Whelan, manager, Health Management Operations, Children’s Wisconsin

“Health equity is what we strive for in the work we do every day to support children and families,” said Theresa Jones, vice president, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity at Children’s Wisconsin. “As part of this program, this team of leaders will be working to find new and innovative solutions to help improve the collection of demographic data and to close gaps identified in those outcomes for communities of color.”

“Having built my career as a community pediatrician, it is energizing to be part of this team of Children’s leaders focusing on this important work that really examines the factors involved in providing equitable care to all Wisconsin kids,” said Robert Rohloff, MD, medical director of Health Management/Community Services for Children’s Wisconsin. “We know there is work to be done, and this program provides us the opportunity to share and learn best practices from other healthcare leaders across the country.” 

The Disparities Leadership Program (DLP), the first program of its kind in the nation, is designed for leaders from hospitals, health insurance plans, and other health care organizations who are seeking to develop practical strategies to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care. The program is led by the Disparities Solutions Center (DSC) at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, Massachusetts.  

Through the DLP, the DSC aims to create leaders prepared to meet the challenges of health care transformation by improving quality for at-risk populations who experience disparities. The program has three main goals:

  • To equip health care leaders with a rich understanding of the causes of disparities, the vision to implement solutions, and the strategies to transform their organization to deliver high-value health care.

  • To help leaders create strategic plans or projects to advance their work in reducing disparities in a customized way, with practical benefits tailored to every organization.

  • To create a professional learning and networking environment for leaders in health care to engage in peer-to-peer learning, crowd sourcing of ideas and strategies for reducing disparities, resource sharing, collaboration, and ongoing support in the form of a national DLP alumni network.

“What we have learned from working with other health care organizations for over a decade is that there is a thirst for knowledge on how to operationalize and execute on strategies to address racial and ethnic disparities, but also to be part of a community that can crowd source ideas,” said Aswita Tan-McGrory, MBA, MSPH, Director of the Disparities Solutions Center at MGH. “Especially in this current national climate of a call to action for social justice, participating organizations create a powerful network of leaders coming together to support and learn from each other toward the common goal of eliminating disparities,” said Tan-McGrory.

Since its inception in 2005 as the nation’s first hospital-based disparities center, the Disparities Solutions Center at MGH has been recognized as a national leader in addressing racial and ethnic disparities in care. In addition to fostering a movement among leaders from 185 organizations nationally and internationally through the DLP, the DSC has worked with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Office of Minority Health to design, implement, and evaluate a portfolio of quality improvement programs to reduce health disparities. In addition, the DSC has partnered with hospital leaders in quality and safety at MGH for over a decade to produce the publicly available Annual Report on Equity in Health Care Quality, which stratifies hospital data by race, ethnicity, language, and other factors to monitor for disparities, identify areas for quality improvement, and report on the progress of initiatives to eliminate disparities. DSC faculty have also played an important role in the well-recognized effort among Boston hospitals to eliminate disparities under the leadership of Boston Public Health Commission. These experiences have uniquely positioned DSC faculty to provide training to those interested in addressing disparities through quality improvement.

The Disparities Leadership Program is jointly sponsored by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and supported by Joint Commission Resources (JCR), an affiliate of the Joint Commission.